The Insider
The Insider

 
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Product Description

THE INSIDER recounts the chain of events that pitted an ordinary man against the tobacco industry and dragged two people into the fight of their lives. Academy Award(R)-winner Al Pacino (1990 Best Actor, SCENT OF A WOMAN; THE RECRUIT) gives a powerful performance as veteran 60 MINUTES producer Lowell Bergman and Academy Award(R) Winner Russell Crowe (2000 Best Actor, GLADIATOR; A BEAUTIFUL MIND) co-stars as the ultimate insider, former tobacco executive Dr. Jeffrey Wigand. When Wigand is fired by his employer -- one of the largest tobacco companies in America -- he agrees to become a paid consultant for a story Bergman is working on regarding alleged unethical practices within the tobacco industry. But what begins as a temporary alliance leads to a lengthy battle for both men to save their reputations, and much, much more. As they soon find out, Corporate America will use all legal means at its disposal to save a billion-dollar-a-year habit. And as the corporate giants soon find out, Bergman and Wigand are honorable men, driven to smoke out the evidence. Also starring Christopher Plummer (MALCOLM X) as anchor Mike Wallace and Gina Gershon (FACE/OFF), THE INSIDER will chill you with its cold, hard edge -- and thrill you with its unbelievable twists and turns.

As revisionist history, Michael Mann's intelligent docudrama The Insider is a simmering brew of altered facts and dramatic license. In a broader perspective, however, the film (cowritten with Forrest Gump Oscar-winner Eric Roth) is effectively accurate as an engrossing study of ethics in the corruptible industries of tobacco and broadcast journalism. On one side, there is Jeffrey Wigand (Russell Crowe), the former tobacco scientist who violated contractual agreements to expose Brown & Williamson's inclusion of addictive ingredients in cigarettes, casting himself into a vortex of moral dilemma. On the other side is 60?Minutes producer Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino), whose struggle to report Wigand's story puts him at odds with veteran correspondent Mike Wallace (Christopher Plummer) and senior executives at CBS News.

As the urgency of the story increases, so does the film's palpable sense of paranoia, inviting favorable comparison to All the President's Men. While Pacino downplays the theatrical excess that plagued him in previous roles, Crow is superb as a man who retains his tortured integrity at great personal cost. The Insider is two movies--a cover-up thriller and a drama about journalistic ethics--that combine to embrace the noble values personified by Wigand and Bergman. Even if the details aren't always precise (as Mike Wallace and others protested prior to the film's release), the film adheres to a higher truth that was so blatantly violated by tobacco executives seen in an oft-repeated video clip, lying under oath in the service of greed. --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews:

  • russell crowe found himself into another good flick
    a standing-o for russell crowe, al picino and the rest of the cast for some really good acting, not to mention the plot which seemingly has a new twist around every corner. you know, i consider a good movie one which you can watch over and over and still find something new about it, something you missed the first few times; the insider is one of these movies. its a shame it didn't win any academy awards with all the nominations....more info
  • Could have been better.
    'The Insider' could have been a much better movie than it actually turned out to be. One of the main problems with the film is we don't know anything about the Russel Crow's character or his family. They were poorly developed and that really hurts the movie. We don't know why Jeff has the emotional problems he has or why his wife seems like she is going to vomit in every other scene.
    What is also really annoying is how the 'The Insider' was filmed.
    Do we really need to see extreme close-ups of the characters' faces from five different angles? What purpose does this type of directing serve? Al Pacino did a fine job as always, but even he couldn't save this mess. ...more info
  • Life or Death
    "The Insider" is one of the most incendiary movies of the 90's. The movie is based on a magazine article, and for the most part the movie follows the article very accurately. The acting is incredible, except for the fact that Pacino may have wanted to tone down his performance as Bergman. The story itself is really a heroic story. Both Wigand and Bergman desparately want to do the right thing, but are constantly foiled by corporate greed. The companies in the movie (Brown & Williamson and CBS) also want to do the right thing but they do it under the purview of corporate responsibility. However, we should not forget what this movie is really about. It is about how the cigarette industry has manufactured a product that has lead to the death of millions of Americans. What Wigand revealed was that the tobacco companies manipulated their product with a known carcinogen. Director Michael Mann directs this movie with the serious intensity that it is due. One of the scenes that sticks out in my mind is where Wigand is being driven to his deposition in Mississippi. On one side of the motorcade is a graveyard, obviously representing death, and on the other side is the sea arguably representing life. Thus, we should know that this movie is really about life and death, and the decisions that people make that influence the lives of millions of Americans. ...more info
  • What's Wrong With This Picture?
    For the most part this movie is superbly acted and well filmed. Russell Crowe, one of the best things that ever happened to Australia, is perfectly cast as Jeffrey Wigand, the scientist whistle-blower who is fired from Brown & Williamson Tobacco Company. Christopher Plummer actually resembles the character he plays, Mike Wallace of CBS Sixty Minutes. Al Pacino should tone down his shouting performance a notch or two, however. The movie got all kinds of nominations for Oscar awards when it was released.

    So what's wrong with this picture? The same thing that's wrong with another Russell Crowe movie "A Beautiful Mind" and Oliver Stone's earlier movie about the Kennedy assassination. They are all--what an awful word--"docudramas." The viewer is told as the credits go up at the end of this movie that some things have been fictionalized for the "sake of drama." This is a cruel irony since the movie is all about integrity. Surely the "real" story of the cruel joke tobacco companies have played on an unwitting public for years would have been enough to intrigue an audience and sustain a hard-hitting documentary.

    The movie is so well-done. I just wish I knew what is real and what isn't here--if we only had a fire wall between fiction and investigative journalism/movies in this country-- surely we are sophisticated enough to handle such a division....more info

  • Beware to whistle blowers!
    This story is a cautionary tale to those who go up against big, powerful corporations. Jeffrey Wigand went up against the tobacco companies and lost just about everything but his integrity. I was absolutly riveted by the performances and the story. This the first movie I'd seen Russell Crowe in and it's not hard to see why he was nominated for an Oscar for this role. His portrayal of a complex person in a tight spot was great. This movie will keep you on the edge of your seat and pondering the dilemmas the characters face for long after....more info
  • 5 Stars for the Movie, 3 Stars for the Quality of the DVD
    The Insider has little action, little violence and little romance. And it is one of the five best movies I have seen in the past five years. It is another in a long line of great performances by Al Pacino, who (in my book) is the finest living American actor. It also is the breakout performance of Russell Crowe, who unfortunately had to compete against Kevin Spacey's American Beauty performance, or he would have won the Oscar for his role as Jeffrey Wigand.

    These two actors have great chemistry in this movie about 60 Minutes producer Lowell Bergman's (Pacino) attempt to get Wigand to come on to his show and expose his secrets about the tobacco industry. The many fits of anger the two men rage are convincing (Pacino is at his best when he is extremely angry - witness the closing scene of Scent of a Woman). Crowe's portrayal of Wigand's many insecurities is masterful. These two men are on their game in this great movie and I can never turn it off when it shows up on cable (although I have the movie in VHS and DVD).

    About that DVD. A disappointment because it is misleading. I thought that the DVD contained a "making of" documentary and audio commentary of Crowe and Pacino. Since I know the dialog of the movie, I thought the audio comments of these two great actors would be a nice little add on not found on the VHS version. So I picked it up. BEWARE - in reality, the documentary is all of about 15 minutes long (if that) and the "audio commentary" of Pacino and Crowe is really just snippets (probably totalling all of 2 minutes) of interviews done with them that is embedded in the documentary. No actors audio track after all. I think enough DVDs have been produced where somebody who sees "audio commentary" assumes a separate track. WRONG!!

    A great movie, a subpar DVD. See it, especially if you love 60 Minutes....more info

  • ah! the world of journalism
    This is the true story of Jeffrey Wigand (Russell Crowe), a man who signed a confidentiality agreement before getting fired from a big tobacco company. Hotshot *60 minutes* producer Bergman (Al Pacino) asks Wigand to decipher some technical documents, and soon realizes there's a bigger story hiding inside Wigand.
    On top of that, Wigand is recruited to testity in Mississippi for a case that claims cigarettes *are* addictive.
    The *60 minutes* piece will eventually be pulled because of corporate pressure. Wigand deals with his personal dilemma, and Bergman battles the corporation.
    Both men will struggle against Big Tobacco's attempts to silence them and against the CBS television network's cowardly complict preference of putting money as a higher priority over the truth.

    True colors of journalism are shown throughout the film. Director Michael Mann has done a great job portraying journalistic realism. The actors are marvelous, no exception.

    An emotionally intense drama which reveals the consequences of standing up for the truth....more info
  • The Insider (1999)
    Director: Michael Mann
    Cast: Al Pacino, Russell Crowe, Christopher Plummer, Diane Venora, Philip Baker Hall, Lindsay Crouse, Debi Mazar.
    Running Time: 158 minutes.
    Rated R for language and some violence.

    Loosely based on a similar real-life tobacco industry media predicament, "The Insider" is an honest, taut portrayal of how one man's willingness to comply with the media and speak his mind can change more things than he could ever imagine. Al Pacino gives his best performance outside of "The Godfather II" and "Scarface", depicting the veteran "60 Minutes" television show producer Lowell Bergman, who is on a hot trail of a story involving the corrupt tobacco industries. Russell Crowe, fresh off fine performances in "L.A. Confidential" and "Courage Under Fire", plays an insider source for Bergman after he loses his job as a prominent tobacco company excecutive.

    When these two men join forces in a battle against the cigarette production and distribution company, Jeffery Wigand (Crowe) has his world turned outside down with death threats and media coverage. Believing that Bergman has set up him to fall, he later realizes that both not only want to save their reputations, but they are striving for the same goal--to communicate the truth. Pacino is in rare, spectacular form, while Crowe is more than adequate as the counterpart. Supporting the lead stars is Plummer as the incomporable Mike Wallace, portraying the strong television icon to near perfection.

    Although over two-and-a-half hours, "The Insider" moves at a quick pace and keeps the audience guessing both Wigand and Bergman's next moves. Michael Mann shoots and cuts a brilliant, beautiful piece of visual artistry, solidifying himself as one of the top directors heading into the next century. A masterpiece of intellect and honor, setting itself a part from many other media-dramas of its kind. Exhilerating and captivating....more info

  • Awesome movie that will make you keep watching
    This is a great movie with a star cast. Russell Crowe does a great job playing the victim of a the tobacco industry that is trying to expose their secrets. The makeup cast does a great job of showing how this trama affects him, as he appears to age a lot during the scandal. Al Pacino is the producer for an acclaimed tv show that is trying to report this scandal. The movie is very interesting and while long, it is so intriguing that you just want to keep watching it. One of my friends that did not even like it to much kept watching it because there was just enough in the story to make him want to keep watching to see what happens. All in all this was a great movie with great acting....more info
  • SLICK, MESMERIZING THRILLER WITH BIG BOLD QUESTIONS.
    If there ever was a list of utterly absorbing films, this would be right up there. What a riveting piece of drama, from Lisa Gerrard's haunting score to the mesmerizing cinematography of Mike Mann in form.

    Al Pacino and Russel Crowe have such intensity you almost feel your veins pop. The conspiracy theory tinged sub-themes are thrillers as it is (big network, big tyke tobacco players, big journalist, strong-arm tactics of corporations, marital relations amidst stressful jobs, etc.) but their rendition in the immaculate screenplay make them even more powerful!

    A word about the DVD. Although it has a couple of interesting extras, including glimpses of some of the real characters, the DD 5.1-only soundtrack is a tad disappointing. Except for a couple of early scenes, one in a cafeteria and one with rain, there is virtually no sound in the rear channels. Not up to today's standards for 5.1 sound. Hopefully a newer version of the DVD would have a better transfer.

    Regardless of the minor gripe, the film itself is fantastic. I'd recommend this as a library item in a blink....more info

  • Michael Mann's most indepth ever
    This movies' attention to detail and its realistic vastness is a reflection of the brilliance that is Michael Mann. A must for anyone interested in great filmmaking...more info
  • TOBACCO AVENUE
    One of those films that I always meant to watch and only now, years after the fact, I get around to doing so, and I am a little disappointed. Docudrama about top tobacco corporate vice president who aligns with TV's "60 Minutes" to expose tobacco company standards is too narrow-minded in scope to encompass all the havoc the tobacco empire exposes on the world, relying on the sympathetic plight and near ruin of the family man executive whose behavior borders on paranoia and insecurity. Al Pacino as a "60 Minutes" producer and Russell Crowe as the reluctant crusader executive both seem overdrawn as characters, Pacino in his familiar nervous edgy urban guy persona and Crowe as the weakling confused executive both grow tiresome after a while. Still, the movie moves along briskly and a surreal sequence where a hotel wall becomes an imagined memory invokes the sometimes hopelessness of tobacco addiction. But why does the film feel the need to mercilessly pick on "60 Minutes"'s Mike Wallace? I seem to be missing the inside word here....more info
  • "I'm just a commodity to you, aren't I?"
    In a capitalistic society, businesses continuously engage in questionable practices in pursuit of the almighty dollar. Michael Mann's "The Insider" shines the spotlight on one particular industry that went to extreme lengths to guarantee that their income stream never dried up. After all the dust settled, big tobacco stood exposed as a participant in one of the most stunning corporate cover-ups in American history.

    While working on a tobacco segment as a producer for "60 Minutes," Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino) stumbles upon an even more astonishing story. He learns that a consultant he has hired named Jeffrey Wigand (Russell Crowe) has first-hand knowledge that tobacco companies are manipulating the make-up of their cigarettes to make them more addictive. Knowing the significance of this story, Bergman and reporter Mark Wallace (Christopher Plummer) pursue it with vigor but come up against roadblocks in the form of a confidentiality agreement signed by Wigand and CBS lawyers who fear that airing the story would result in a lawsuit that would bankrupt the network. Unwilling to bow to the pressures around him, Bergman engages in tense behind-the-scenes maneuvering to ensure that the story sees the light of day.

    Michael Mann is one of the better directors working today. His body of work has been impressive as "Manhunter" (1986), "The Last of the Mohicans" (1992), and "Heat" (1995) all have been wonderfully crafted films that still entertain to this day. "The Insider" is more reflective and insightful than his earlier films, but it still retains the Michael Mann mark of quality. Under a less able director, "The Insider" could have easily been a languid investigative piece, but Mann utilizes passionate performances and his skilled craftsmanship to create a captivating story about the darker side of corporate America. Pacino is his usual dependable self as he turns in another distinguished performance as the heroic and embattled television producer. Yet, the breakthrough performance in this film belongs to Crowe who offers tantalizing glimpses of the great things yet to come in his future. "The Insider" is a stark reminder that good men and women in the investigative reporting field are still diligently at work exposing the evils around us despite the enormous pressures exerted upon them to keep sinister secrets secret. The world is a better place because of their efforts....more info

  • Great Film
    Watch this film for Russel Crowe's amazing transformation in to Jeffrey Wigand, a scientist and family man tortured with the knowledge that he helped cover up evidence of the disasterous health effects of cigarettes for the tobacco industry. It took me a good 10 minutes to realize that the man on the screen was indeed Crowe - he inhabited his character that well.

    Also watch this film because it is a rare Pacino role of the last 10 years where he wasn't just playing himself. The scenes with Pacino and Crowe make you feel that you are watching two real people trying to expose a massive coverup while protecting what they hold dear, and not just two big name Hollywood stars.

    The film does run pretty long, but you will be rewarded by two great performances with a number of excellent cameos. Not to mention the evocative imagery and mood created by Michael Mann....more info
  • Widescreen on a full screen: an irritable band aid makes
    a great movie into visual pain as 2/3's of your screen is blacked out while you peer into this rectangular lens much like watching a partial eclipse of the moon. What great executive made the decision to pass out half a movie when you should get a whole? ...more info
  • Excellent
    I have read a few reviews that question the historical accuracy of all the details, and I do not have enough knowledge to know whether it is accurate on every point or not, nevertheless, this is an excellent, contemporary drama.

    It is extremely realistic whether it is perfectly accurate or not. Again, I do not know if it is or it isn't.

    This is the movie, to me, that really showed Crowe's versatility as an actor. He really is outstanding in this movie. When you watch this movie, he portrays Jeffrey Wigand so well it is hard to believe it is Russell Crowe at times.

    Crowe brilliantly portrays the moral conflict within Wigand (whether that actually happended or not) as well as the fear and paranoia he experienced. The journalists and lawyers are all shown in a very realistic manner, which all shows the ordeal Wigand had to have endured during this process.

    Even though he made no attempt to look like him during this movie, I found Plummer's portrayal of Mike Wallace to be fascinating. It is hard to put my finger on it, but he really brought a presence to the screen and I loved every scene he was in.

    This is an exceptional movie. Great acting, great direction, strong tension and drama, very realistic, and a great story to boot. And although it would have been easy to jump on the anti-tobacco bandwagon and turn this into a political statement, he never does. Although I am no fan of big tobacco, I am no fan of Hollywood politics either.

    One of my top 10 movies.






    ...more info
  • Great Movie!!!
    This was recommended to me by a quit smoking group. I highly recommend this to smokers/non-smokers alike. If I had known about this, I would have never started smoking. 4 ****!!!...more info
  • Powerful film that asks some startling questions we do well to find the answers to...
    If `Gladiator' is responsible for introducing me to the one we know as Russell Crowe then `The Insider' is responsible for cementing in my psyche the fact that he is capable of just about anything (on screen that is). `The Insider' is a far cry from `Gladiator', that's for sure, but Russell Crowe's performance is just as if not even more powerful than his Oscar winning portrayal of General Maximus. `The Insider' is a dramatic look at the world of politics, in both that of big business and journalism and it does a fantastic job of establishing a view we all can share, letting each and every one of us see for ourselves the good, the bad and the ugly side of it all. Michael Mann delivers an edge of your seat thriller that is not your conventional thriller. I feel the need to say that because if you walk into this film expecting to see something flashy and, for lack of a better word, `commanding' (in a purely Hollywood, Blockbuster sense of the word) then you will be sorely disappointed. If you walk into this film expecting to see a drama that will force you to think and comprehend what you are witnessing then by all means, sit back and enjoy.

    `The Insider' recounts the true story (at least for the most part it's true) of `60 Minutes' insider Jeffrey Wigand, a former tobacco executive who breaks his contractual agreements and feeds information, confidential information, to `60 Minutes' producer Lowell Bergman. This causes major problems for Wigand and it affects him drastically, causing problems within his family, his marriage but also within the pit of his soul. Wigand is tortured by his decisions for they present him a moral dilemma that he can't quite ascertain the correct answer to. As Wigand struggles with his own demons Bergman becomes increasingly insistent and this presents Bergman with his own morality questions that he must decipher himself.

    Mann's direction creates a sense of tension, of uneasiness that manifests itself brilliantly within certain sequences of the film. When Wigand is at the driving range for instance the viewer finds himself at the edge of his seat, hair standing on end, holding his breath until the scene is over and all is well. Mann just has a masterful way of unnerving his audience, unraveling the surroundings of his film in such a way that we are left speechless (check out `Collateral' as well for the same effect). The script, written by Mann and Eric Wroth (based on the article by Marie Brenner entitled `The Man Who Knew Too Much') also helps in this regard for it fleshes out the characters so well we become entangled in their plights and emotionally invest ourselves in their situation.

    The biggest asset to this film though is the incredible cast, Crowe especially (so I'll get to him last). Al Pacino has faltered quite a bit in recent years, never really delivering quite like he used to, but here he manages to muster up his flare of yesteryear and deliver a top notch and commanding performance. Christopher Plummer is also very well used as Mike Wallace. His performance is very well grounded and memorable. Diane Venora doesn't have a lot to do here but lend support to Crowe and she does a fine job at that. Certain scenes really flesh out her performance, especially the scene when she finds a message on her computer. Philip Baker Hall is always a delight to watch and his contribution to this film does not go unnoticed.

    That brings us to Crowe, an actor of whom I have no shame in admitting my unfailing devotion and utter admiration. As Jeffrey Wigand, Crowe does what we look for in a performance...he loses himself in his character. This is something I've always admired about Crowe's work but I don't feel that any performance of his to date comes close to the power behind that of Jeffrey Wigand. This performance is probably my favorite interpretation of a real person in recent years, maybe ever. What makes this such a commanding performance is that Crowe didn't have a gimmick to work with here; he just had a story to tell. Jeffrey Wigand wasn't eccentric, he didn't have a disability...he was just an average person. So what I mean to say here is that what Crowe did with Wigand is much more difficult that, say what Hoffman did with Truman Capote or what Jamie Foxx did with Ray Charles. There is no `mimicry' here; there is no legend to channel. This is just flawless acting.

    Crowe does so much acting with his face it becomes impossible not to get lost in his stare. The ways his eyes seem to lose all their valiant energy expertly depict his almost hopeless state as the film progresses. We can read every emotion, from confusion to fear, misery and dread to that devastating feeling of loss and regret that flood his eyes as he watches his world unwind. I love Kevin Spacey, and I love his performance in `American Beauty' but there's no doubt in my mind that Russell Crowe gave the performance of the year in 1999.

    `The Insider' is a film that will mesmerize and entertain you, make you think and maybe even make you worry but in the end it will make you realize that not all decisions are easy ones to make and not all questions, especially of the moral kind, have a right or wrong answer. Sometimes we are left to find our own `right' answer and just pray that it doesn't destroy us in the end....more info
  • Great movie
    Great movie, great service, I am VERY against smoking and this movie made me hate it even more. Thanks! :)...more info
  • Pacino & Crowe at their best
    If you're looking for a riveting movie that will keep you glued to your set through the entire performance, this is it.
    Pacino and crowe are at their best as the two men take on two corporate giants.
    ...more info
  • An intimate story of two stubborn and unlikely heroes
    This film has been described as a David v Goliath story about the exposee of big tobacco, which it certainly is, but what made this picture such an emotional experience was that beneath the surface, was an intimate story of personal struggle among two men, Jeffrey Wigand(Crowe) and Lowell Bergman(Pacino).

    Jeffrey Wigand, the proud, reluctant family man, who went about in blowing the whistle on his former employers, Brown & Williamson, was not protrayed as the typical crusader out to do good for the right cause. He was shown with all of the flaws of human frailties present that contributed to the realism of the movie. The motivation for him to particiapte in an exposee of Brown & Williamson was strictly to preserve his pride as a man of integrity and most of all, to protect his manhood and prevent castration from the powers that be. His reasons for going public were not noble and were not for the right reasons. It was the way the film gave him a full arc in which he began to shape into a real hero doing what he did for the right reasons, made it a movie with great depth and brutal honesty.

    Aside from those qualities, another admirable quiality about this film were the photography and visual compositions. The visual style this movie carried was just absolutely amazing. And it wasn't obstrusive to the story or overly-stylized. Every composition and color scheme were there to add to the atmosphere and storytelling. Michael Mann's minimalist compositions reminded me of Michelangelo Antonioni's work that gave this film the detached feeling and presence it required in revealing the anti-social personality and confusion of Jeffrey Wigand. Director MAnn and Dante Spinotti is definitely up there with other frequent dynamic duo Director/DP teams like Steven Spielberg with Janusz Kaminski, Coen Bros. with Roger Deakins, Anthony Minghella with John Seale, Wong Kar Wai with Christopher Doyle, and so on....more info

  • A Story of Two Honorable Men in a World Gone Awry
    THE INSIDER is so many things at once that it becomes hard to catalog them. It is, at the same time, a movie about two men who fight against the system and large corporations, a semi-historical account of the real life whistle blower who brought down the tobacco industry with the help of an intrepid news reporter and news agency, an examination of ordinary characters made into heroes by extraordinary pressures, and an exploration of journalistic ethics. At a little over two and one half hours, director Michael Mann manages to squeeze everything into a tightly woven film that delivers everything it promises.

    The film opens up on a disconcerting image of cloth, only to realize that it is a head covering over the face of a man being escorted by armed soldiers through the dangerous streets of Lebanon. Who is the masked man? Where are they taking him? Finally, they reach their destination and the masked man is seated in a chair before Hezbollah leader, Sheikh Fadlallah. The meeting is about a possible interview between the Sheikh and 60 Minutes anchor, Mike Wallace. Despite his dangerous circumstances, the masked man is surprisingly bold in the negotiations and manages to secure the interview. The masked man is soon revealed to be none other than 60 Minutes produces, Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino).

    Meanwhile, a tired executive makes his way home in an unexplained daze. We later find out that he is Jeffrey Wigand (Russell Crowe), a former head of research and development at tobacco giant Brown & Williamson, who has been recently fired for nonsense reasons. Wigand has an expensive life, two daughters (one with asthma), and the prospect of losing his job is tremendously hard to bear. The severance package they have offered him is limited, but does include medical. But everyone knows that no one hires ex-tobacco scientists in the health profession. Where will he find employment? How will he support his family?

    With our two main protagonists situated and developed, the plot begins to thicken in order to bring our two heroes together. A package is mysteriously sent to Bergman containing insider tobacco documents. The only problem is that they are written in technical language. Bergman is given Wigand's name as a possible "translator," thus entwining our two protagonists for the rest of the film. After much cat & mouse, Wigand eventually agrees to meet with Bergman to discuss the job. Bergman's excellent instincts sense that there is a lot Wigand isn't sharing and he discovers the reason. Wigand has signed a confidentiality agreement with his former employer, agreeing not to talk about company business on pain of losing his severance and medical benefits. Slowly, Bergman begins the process of convincing Wigand to blow the whistle on his former employers.

    What evolves is a classic tale rooted in real world events. The first half of the film is dedicated to getting Wigand to testify and give an interview for 60 Minutes, risking his family's life, financial well-being, and sanity along the way. Most films would have ended at this point, but with about an hour left to go, the film makes a dramatic turn, almost completely dropping Wigand out of the plot. Under threat of litigation, CBS News decides not to run Wigand's interview. Suddenly, Wigand is at risk of doing everything for nothing. Bergman is outraged by CBS's decision and the film follows his character's attempts to fight against CBS to get it released.

    Hence, THE INSIDER is about two men who each fight their own respective corporations. But while one can't ignore the "man versus the machine" aspect of the film, ultimately it doesn't seem to be Mann's primary interest. What THE INSIDER truly focuses on is the character of our two protagonists. Wigand decides to testify and blow the whistle on his former employer because he has betrayed his values working for the company. He was a man of science and a man who worked for healthcare companies, he tells us early on, but who sold out for the money they offered him. Wigand is, at times, an uncomfortably honorable character and the film seeks to restore himself in his own eyes. Bergman is equally engrossing and, thanks to Pacino's superb performance, is, perhaps, even more inspiring to watch. CBS's threat not to release the material is not an attack on the freedom of the press or on Bergman's hard work. It is an attack on Bergman's personal integrity and honesty. "I have never burned a source," he tells us emphatically. Whatever Bergman promises, he delivers. And he shows us that he is willing to pay dearly in order to maintain that integrity.

    The performances are brilliant all the way around in this film. Crowe's performance of a man pushed to the edge by extraordinary forces is brilliant. I was nervous in every scene he was in and wondered if he would snap at any minute. Pacino, as mentioned, is wonderful in his part, in a rather understated performance. Christopher Plummer seems to capture Mike Wallace completely. Though not many of us have had the chance to see Mike Wallace "off camera," there is a certain believability to the performance that is undeniable. No one gets to be the anchor of 60 Minutes unless he or she is prepared to play serious hardball. It was refreshing to see. Reminiscent of ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN, this film also manages to give you a very candid look into the making of broadcast news and all of the work that goes on behind the scenes (some of it quite dangerous) to produce a story. Michael Mann's directing is quite capable; the music and sound compliments the beautiful imagery; and the script is well crafted.

    All in all, THE INSIDER is a great film that should have taken home some Oscars. I highly recommend it.
    ...more info
  • Another Michael Mann gem!
    The Insider is not a movie that will get most people's blood pumping. However, for me, this movie did just that. Al Pacino's performance is, as usual, amazing. He never seems to disappoint when he is in front of the camera. Russel Crowe turns in one of the best performances of his career. I thought that his acting job in this movie far exceeded his performance in Gladiator. The movie was a little slow in some places, but the overall tempo was very good. Mann's direction was excellent in adding different elements just at the right time to keep the story going. Although not the typical action movie that most fans like, this drama is an excellent movie for those who are looking for an interesting movie or for great acting....more info
  • The Time Machine
    Another exammple of Hollywood's view of the world. As an ex-smoker, the significance of this drama eludes me. I mean its not as if nobody has the slightest inkling that cigarettes are bad for you and addictive and you shouldn't smoke. But apparently the responsiblity does not lie with the individual - to get a grip on him or herself and not smoke - but with the big tobacco companies who are made to seem as if they are preying on a hapless populace who regard them with tragically misguided childlike trust and reverence. From the gravity of this movie a newly-arrived space alien who wandered into a theater and pointed his antennae at the screen would get the impression that we earthlings are very much like the eloi and morlocks of HG Wells' future world. The eloi smokers - lets call them the smokeloi - go around in a beatific daze with a cigarette hanging out of the side of their mouths at all times. They are not eaten by the tobacco-producing morlocks - lets call them the philmorlocks - but presently some of them develop a whacking cough. The time traveller witnesses this situation and it does not occur to him to ask the smokeloi why they don't just stop smoking. Instead, he suggests that the smokeloi should sue the philmorlocks for everything they own - which in this case is plenty. The scene fades out with the thus incited smokeloi still smoking but now jumping up and down chanting slogans, holding placards with cigarettes hanging out of the side of their mouth. They buoy the time traveller aloft like he's stage diving at an REM concert and as the light hits his face in those last few moments you can't quite tell if he's supposed to be Al Pacino or Russell Crowe and come to think of it you don't really care....more info
  • Stands up to multiple viewings
    This movie should not fade into obscurity. I am a big fan of Russell Crowe, Al Pacino and Michael Mann, and they are all at the top of their craft. ...more info
  • I wish I could rate this a 10...
    This has got to be my favorite movie of all time. (Or at least in the top 3).
    Russell Crowe is amazing. Really what else can be said that others haven't already articulated. He should have won the Academy Award for this, why he didn't is beyond me.
    Pacino and Crowe together have excellent chemistry and Michael Mann, as always, makes a movie that runs over two and half hours seem like no time at all and leaves you wanting more.
    The soundtrack is moody and beautiful and fits the pastel scene work incredibly.
    From the Missisippi District Attorney to the scumbag tobacco heads, this movie shows just how disgusting and seedy that people can be and it also shows that there are still people willing to take a courageous stand for their beliefs.

    EXCELLENT EXCELLENT EXCELLENT, buy this movie, you will not regret it. By the way, did I say that it was EXCELLENT....more info

  • Widespread Public Awareness.
    To be cinematographically loyal to a Real Life Story is impossible, and this is because the only real truth to any story, is the point of view of its protagonist. Once an author takes the facts and expose them in any particular media, that point of view becomes a third person in the events, the objectiveness of those facts then become subjective to the intuition of the author. Now, the intention of that author has to be honorable, and that is: to honor the Truth of that story he or she is trying to tell, as accurate and close to the point of view of the people that went trough those events, that way the beholder will take that information through a third, and will judge it accurate, inaccurate or hypocrite, whatever that information is objectively right, or subjectively wrong. All the author need is: first hand information, objectiveness away from a partial judgment, a real understanding of that story, plus a real care for it, and confidence in a deep research work to be credit with. This is as close as you can hope to get, then you can digest it.
    When The Insider began shooting, Jeffery Wigand was still on litigation against Big Tobacco. Many of the specific information couldn't be disclose to Michael Mann and his crew, so he and Eric Roth took license and approach the story as close to the emotional truth of the protagonist with the intention to portrait the long way towards redemption and inner strength, a docudrama including the personal side of it. In no easy sense Jeffrey Wigand is a hero, but an ordinary man in extraordinary conditions, in the other hand, Lowell Bergman is an idealistic man who's moral professional ethics are about to be past over. Corruption, manipulation, psychological and financial aggression, personal interests, are the issues against these two man are tested with. How they survive and manage their way through victory, is a real statement of Integrity and Moral Truth.
    Based on a article published by Vanity Fair called, The Man Who Knew Too Much, The Insider is pure journalism language. The always interesting Michael Mann, narrates with integrity and courage, the events about two-man disclosure campaign against Tobacco giant Brown and Williamson, meaning absolute power in every sense. Jeffrey Wigand is set into despair when Big Tobacco C.E.O.'s threatens him with a massive sued in case he doesn't sign an extension of the confidentiality agreement he never intended to dishonor. And it is here when Lowell Bergman (a producer for 60 minutes), enters his counterpart to attempt the exposition of the real Truth of the Cigarette industry, and that is: cigarettes are a delivery devise for nicotine, light it up, put it in your mouth, and it will get you fix. Jeffrey Wigand's life will crush against this sons of bit', and Lowell Bergman will be betrayed by his own office and friends when C.B.S. Corporate pushes hard on C.B.S. News to not go with the story. Lowell and Wigand will endure, but after a nerve breaking battle of a life time, at the end the exclusive is lost, but the Story will be cast, and integrity and peace of mind will find its way again in the strong Jeffrey Wigand, and the audacious Lowell Bergman.
    Michael Mann gives you a lesson in cinema, his directorial skills are proved in this masterpiece, keen, powerful, and honest, just brilliant and much close to the real Truth as you can hope to get. The great Al Pacino portraits Lowell Bergman in an intense canvas of human will, excellent. Russell Crowe performance is absolutely impressive, all the complicated ways of Jeffrey Wigand, his despair, his moral debate of disclose this much important information, his emotiveness in times of no hope, all this is perfectly done by Crowe in his highly inspiring work (Actually, the best performance of 1999. Crowe lost the Academy Award against Kevin Spacey for his also great performance in American Beauty). Veteran actor Christopher Plummer also gives an excellent performance as the legendary and arrogant Mike Wallace (Wallace actually protested for this, but think about it, after all the accolades he has receive in his long career; Could it be possible that he just turned a little too cocky over the decades? So many people kissing your behind for so much time, must have some effect in your personality. Isn't that just so unfair Mike?). The rest of the cast is also great.
    A perfect adapted screen play, a beautiful and accurate photography, and an amazing music score by the great Lisa Gerrard and Pieter Bourke, brings more emotion to the story (other musical credits includes: Graeme Revell, Massive Attack, etc), unforgettable. The Insider is that magnificent movie, that the Academy so often tends to past over and forget when then moment of Truth (in most cases, the best movie of the year), even with its 7 nominations, the Insider didn't get one single award, another huge oversight (Stanley Kubrick and Alfred Hitchcock never in their life time received an Academy Award for Best Director, such a thing completely discredits this highly prestigious Award). Never mind.
    The DVD is good, a quality visual transferring and a fine 5.1 Dolby Digital are great, the problem is that the DVD lacks of extras, just a production Featurette, the Trailer, and a Scene Comparison with the original script, is all that there is. I would have love to see the entire 60 minutes original Interview, and a 25 minutes Making Of, any way, the transferring is great, and that's all that matters. A must for your DVD collection.
    Interesting enough is that the movie talks about the Cigarette Industry in many ways, and goes even further with the manipulation surrounding it's addictive product, but never in the film one single person is shown smoking a cigarette....more info
  • Super!
    The Insider is Russell Crowe's precursor to the Gladiator. Watching Crowe in Insider and the Gladiator is a true display of the brilliance of this young actor. The Insider brings you two of the best actors in history in Al Pacino, my selection for the #4 spot of best actors of all time. (Crowe, although still needing more films under his belt, comes in at #20.) The Insider shows how corporate profit out weight the well-being of the people. Knowing their product (tobacco) is habit forming and deadly, the giants use everything within their means to crush and discredit the informer and attempt to control the media. As a member of the media, it is embarrassing to see how CBS coward under pressure only to have Bergman and Wigand push harder to do the honorable thing. They will bring the evidence to the public. The Insider is well written and the acting from all including Christopher Plummer is fantastic. The script and Michael Mann's direction is great, no surprise it received 7 Academy Award nominations including best picture. This movie is a keepsake, not since Heat and the Godfather have moviegoers had the opportunity to see two of the best actors in film together....more info
  • tobacco industry
    A great expose of the tobacco industry and their lies to get their product sold and you addicted to nicotine. It also shows the destructive power of bad corporations that don't care about the public good....more info
  • A Masterpiece
    Wow! Al Pacino (terrific and not overacting!) and Russell Crowe (devastating performance) in a "based on true story" about the tobacco industry, "60-Minutes," Mike Wallace (brilliantly played by Christopher Plummer and conspiracy to addict Americans....more info
  • Michael Mann's Masterpiece
    From the first image, the viewer is immediately thrust into a situation with no explanation and no dialogue. It takes a few seconds before it is revealed to be a blindfolded man who is being driven through a busy, noisy Middle Eastern city. What's going on here? Who is he? The rush of noises and images is an assault on the senses. The blindfolded man, Lowell Bergman (Pacino), is here to set up an interview with the Sheik for 60 Minutes. Michael Mann introduces Bergman in this fashion to grab the audience's attention with a single detail and then gradually expands out to the bigger picture, which symbolizes the film's structure and its style. The events in the picture are created from a single event and everything grows from that one incident.

    This scene establishes the no-nonsense tone of the movie and the professionalism of the characters. Lowell Bergman is a worldly man who is not afraid to speak his mind. He is willing to go, literally, blind into a potentially dangerous situation to get what he wants. He is a consummate professional who knows how to handle things: the quintessential Mann protagonist. In a way, the professional nature of Mann's characters is reminiscent of the no-nonsense characters that populate the films of Howard Hawks and Don Siegel.

    Jeffrey Wigand (Crowe)'s introduction is also important in how it establishes his character. He is shown in the foreground of the scene but is out of focus. There is a party going on in the background that is in focus but we cannot hear it. Wigand is almost obscured by the party goers who are oblivious to him. Wigand is all alone in his office which establishes right away that he is an isolated protagonist. This is reinforced by the shot of him in his office: it is dark, he is alone, very quiet.

    While the family life scenes in Heat felt weak and under-developed, they are much stronger and are more crucial to the narrative in The Insider. It doesn't hurt that he's got an excellent cast here: Lindsay Crouse, Diane Venora, Christopher Plummer, Philip Baker Hall, et al.

    One of Mann's strengths is how he conveys expositional dialogue. This is very difficult without boring an audience conditioned to tune out during long, talky scenes. However, a scene between Bergman and his co-workers over lunch works because of how Mann shoots and edits the scene. They are sitting around talking and brainstorming about Wigand and the danger of interviewing him. There is a lot of exposition and facts about tobacco being thrown around but Mann uses multiple camera set-ups and has such talented actors speaking the dialogue that it keeps everything interesting. There are a lot of different camera angles in this scene but the editing is not done in a rapid-fire haphazard fashion like in a Michael Bay film where no shot lasts for more than thirty seconds. There is the feeling that Mann knows what an edit means and that they are not intrusive but rather allow the scene to flow organically.

    The scene between Bergman and Wigand in the Japanese restaurant is the centerpiece of the film; much in the same way that the Lecktor/Graham conversation in Manhunter and the Hanna/McCauley restaurant scene in Heat are important because they all represent the meeting of the driving forces of their respective films. The characters meet, verbally spar with each other, convey, either implicitly or explicitly, their worldview and most important sort things out between each other. The dialogue in this scene really crackles and pops with intensity.

    The DVD is a bit of a disappointment. While the transfer is top notch and the audio is fantastic, the lack of extras is a missed opportunity to be sure. This film deserves the deluxe Criterion Collection treatment. Mann has been revisiting some of his films lately, with a new edition of Manhunter with an audio commentary and new 2-DVD special editions of Heat and Ali on the horizon. Who knows?...more info

  • Style plays substance in a game of two halves. One-all draw.
    From the very opening shot, as a blindfolded Al Pacino is raced through the streets of Gaza to meet the leader of the Hezbollah to negotiate an interview with 60 minutes, you know that style is going to be important component of this movie. Before that, even, if you're paying attention, since it's a Michael Man flick (he of Miami Vice and Manhunter).

    And like Manhunter, style gets the better of content, to the point where the content jackknifes halfway though and the film morphs from a fairly routine Whistleblower expose (like Silkwood) to a Testament to Journalistic Integrity: Russell Crowe's victimised whistleblowing ciggy scientist almost completely disappears from the last forty minutes as Pacino battles with CBS legal and corporate honchos to get the segment aired in the name of truth and justice.

    Meantime, the style grates - from the elaborate opener in Palestine which, while impressive, is irrelevant to the film except to show off Al's commitment to his profession, to the silly music and the the endless shots of the backs of heads - especially Crowe's, but towards the end of the film, everyone else's as well. Maybe Mann was trying to invoke some imagery with this, but I couldn't figure it out, so it just annoyed me, especially since it highlighted, in Crowe's case, a very poor wig.

    Crowe did his best to rustle (ha!) up a Kentucky accent, but still was miscast - I don't think the Wigand character was a hollywood hunk. Pacino carried the film and Christopher Plummer's portrayal of Mike Wallace was spot on.

    While it's undoubtedly an entertaining film, just too much about it was cliched or needlessly modish for it to make a real impression, so I reckon it's destined for the half price hire section in the video store.

    But cheap at half the price....more info

  • Don't think corperations have too much say? Check this out!
    This a beautifully made & deeply spiritual film (Michael Mann's best, I think) about two men who discover the difficulty of achieving success in modern American life when the power structure is controlled by a few multi-billion dollar corperations w/ mutual interests. Russle Crowe & Al Pacino's characters both learn some hard lessons about what being succesfull in the 90's really requires....more info
  • A classic for all time

    One of the most important stories of the 20th century.

    It didn't just change 'big tobacco'. It changed corporate ethics. Just look at the more ethical behaviour of 'big alcohol' today and you can trace its roots to the story of The Insider. It is an education to everyone in business. The events re-established the independence and proper role of the press as one of the pillars of civilised society.

    Consumers world wide owe a great debt to Dr. Geoffrey Wigand, (the whistle blower) and Lowell Bergman, (the 60 Minutes producer). Two men who put their careers, even their lives on the line for an ethical principle and in defence of society. There are few such men or women. Their example should be emulated by all.

    One of the best films of the 20th century. Such a story deserves excellence in its telling. Sharpe, it keeps you on the edge of your seat. Appropriately dramatised, the characterisation is convincing. This is not just a simple linear story, but multi-layered. To see the layers you need to watch it more than once. One layer missed by most reviewers is the contrast between the wives of the two men. One understanding and supporting, the other self-interested. The inevitable consequences are shown. How true to life we do not know, but that back story is worthy of its inclusion. If you want to learn the craft of story telling, be it in print radio or film, then learn from The Insider. Thanks to Michael Mann, Russell Crow and Al Pacino for its brilliant telling.

    This is a story that should be known world-wide. A film that should be watched world-wide again and again. It is perfection is social education. A griping tale that teaches us all how to behave.

    Dr. Wigand and Mr. Bergman, I salute you.

    just Jack
    ...more info
  • Drama Greatness. One of Al Pacino's Greatest performances of screen.
    An Enthralling story, shot with a granular, visceral, adjusting focus-style that is popular in some of todays best shows, such as Battlestar Gallactica, and some of Micheal Mann's more contemporary films. The acting cast deserves a standing ovation. There isn't a moment of dissapointment in this modern movie classic. More about our Media and the fragil interconnection of politics and real world, with the case of Hope, and its trumpcard effect. ...more info
  • An intimate story of two stubborn and unlikely heroes
    This film has been described as a David v Goliath story about the exposee of big tobacco, which it certainly is, but what made this picture such an emotional experience was that beneath the surface, was an intimate story of personal struggle among two men, Jeffrey Wigand(Crowe) and Lowell Bergman(Pacino).

    Jeffrey Wigand, the proud, reluctant family man, who went about in blowing the whistle on his former employers, Brown & Williamson, was not protrayed as the typical crusader out to do good for the right cause. He was shown with all of the flaws of human frailties present that contributed to the realism of the movie. The motivation for him to particiapte in an exposee of Brown & Williamson was strictly to preserve his pride as a man of integrity and most of all, to protect his manhood and prevent castration from the powers that be. His reasons for going public were not noble and were not for the right reasons. It was the way the film gave him a full arc in which he began to shape into a real hero doing what he did for the right reasons, made it a movie with great depth and brutal honesty.

    Aside from those qualities, another admirable quiality about this film were the photography and visual compositions. The visual style this movie carried was just absolutely amazing. And it wasn't obstrusive to the story or overly-stylized. Every composition and color scheme were there to add to the atmosphere and storytelling. Michael Mann's minimalist compositions reminded me of Michelangelo Antonioni's work that gave this film the detached feeling and presence it required in revealing the anti-social personality and confusion of Jeffrey Wigand. Director MAnn and Dante Spinotti is definitely up there with other frequent dynamic duo Director/DP teams like Steven Spielberg with Janusz Kaminski, Coen Bros. with Roger Deakins, Anthony Minghella with John Seale, Wong Kar Wai with Christopher Doyle, and so on....more info

  • I kept waiting for something to justify the build up.
    Full of portentious music and camera angles, The Insider plays like a story that is about to reveal a mystical, transforming truth, or at least something shocking. But that's the problem. The movie isn't about a network news show cow-towing to financial pressures. Sure, that story is here, but it never becomes the major focus of the film. And the movie isn't about one man and his crisis of conscience or character. Again, we are shown the thin, superficial layers of this personal struggle, but not much more. Instead, the movie drills into, and focuses on relentlessly, the "secret" this "insider" wants to tell the world, but can't. And that point is driven home in so many different ways--as if Jeffrey Wygand (who I suppose is the main character) has something extraordinarily interesting and devastating to reveal, and that the world will change as a result of him going public.

    That's the tragedy of The Insider. Because now, a few years of perspective later, we realize that Wygand's inside story is both obvious and relatively unimportant. Sure, it caused some big tobacco settlements to be struck, but it packs relatively little dramatic punch. And so all this pomp and circumstance about his revelations and their impact on society at large has no legs. And the loud, pretentious soundtrack, the slow motion effects, the bombastic set-up, well, it's a set-up for disappointment. It's a bit like setting your home movies to a Wagnerian opera.

    I gave the movie a three because I thought Pacino's and Plummer's performances, and to a slightly lesser extent, Crowe's, merited it. Plus, being inside the conflict within CBS was fascinating....more info

  • An Analytical Film about Corporate Scandal.
    Tobacco courtroom fraud does not seem like an exciting motion picture film to make and certainly the idea of corporate fatheads eating up all the capitalism they can manage is just a state of reality that one can sympathise with but also feel that people are ultimately responsible for their own actions and nobody is forcing the products down their throats. It seems that Michael Mann would have a lot to go up against here if he wanted to prove that yself-inflicted harmy is someone elseys responsibility. Mann does not avoid this element but he does aim his direction more at corporate employee suppression, the impact that their testimony may have on society, the importance of the freedom of speech, how the media can be manipulated and the influence on government and state sector lobbying.

    This is a very intelligent movie that brings one manys quest to do battle with the giants into sharp contrast with the stark reality of its lunacy, shortcomings and psychological affects that is has on a family and oneys life in general. At times this picture is extremely deep and moving. It is also equally complex, controversial and conspires. Maybe repeat viewings are needed to capture all of its intricacy and involvedness with the real world corporate scandal scene.

    Russell Crowe plays Dr. Jeffrey Wigand, a scientist with a heart who believes that the tobacco giants he worked for perjured themselves in a court of law when they said that they believed that tobacco was not addictive. Wigand believes that while he worked for these companies that he was asked to develop a chemical system by which nicotine would be administered to the brain, through smoking, more quickly and effectively. He takes his story to CBSys 60 minutes producer Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino) and this starts a chain reaction where the corporate fatheads proceed to suppress him, the CBS show and resort to unconditional threats and exploitation of the manys family that even involves manipulating the police services. The bottom line here - Money is Power.... but so are some other things.

    This is not all good guys vs bad guys stuff. At times Wigand comes across as a really gruff and stuck-up chemist with a grudge. Bergman, for all his interest and want to tell a good story, is also ultimately just a reporter who wants to be the one behind presenting the facts to the American public. Bergmanys story is just as interesting as Wigands. Wigand finds himself heavily suppressed by the corporate sector to the point where he is escorted to the courts under armed guard. Bergman finds himself, and his career, ruined by ycorporate-CBSy who have final say over what they can or can not air.

    This is all good stuff and makes for remarkable viewing. It is very long, drawn out but never dull and does transcend its narrow theme to incorporate much more about the real world than just its corporate scandals. This is the kind of film that you would like to see Hollywood do more. It is brainy, thoughtful and thoroughly satisfying. It is also based on a true story. The film itself attracted some hullabaloo from the tobacco giants in question.

    Anybody can enjoy this film. It is a tense drama and certainly you will hard-pressed not to like it. If you are looking for a worthy and worldly reason for a drama then you do not have to look much further than The Insider.

    Great Cinema. Bold Filmmaking....more info

  • Riveting movie about how Mike Wallace buckled over to CBS bigwigs and big tobacco
    Everyone does a great job of acting. I forgot this was a movie as I watched it. I was outraged that the poor smuck that trusted 60 MINUTES to run his expose of the tobacco industry was abandoned by Mike Wallace and his gang and that he lost everything, his retirement income, his home and his wife and litle girls, while Wallace's big worry was how he would be remembered after he retired from 60 MINUTES. ...more info
  • WAY OVERRATED HYPOCRISY
    "Issues" liberals may be people of conscience with good intentions who give of their time, energy and money for a variety of causes to better society, usually by helping disadvantaged kids or the afflicted. Hooray for them. They cannot get too much applause for that. But they jumped on the anti-tobacco bandwagon, which is in my view real hypocrisy. First, Hollywood always displays macho men and femme fatale women smoking cigarettes and looking cool. Tobacco has been around for centuries. It is a legal product that people want. The fact that it is bad for you is simply common knowledge, yet trial lawyers, the biggest Democrat special interest group, file nefarious multi-million dollar class action lawsuits and tort claims against tobacco companies, as if some plaintiff who smoked for 50 years before getting lung cancer was forced by the company to do so.
    During the Clinton years, the Democrats jumped on this issue like there was no tomorrow, actually making government ads against legal American tobacco corporations and the tobacco industry in a move that cannot be legal, civilly and maybe Constitutionally. These ads typically show a couple of (always) white tobacco execs plotting to poison kids, then laughing about it. Turn this ad around and direct it at anybody else and the hue and cry would be endless. These companies contribute enormous taxes and employ thousands. I myself was addicted to chewing tobacco (Copenhagen) for 16 years. I knew I had to quit, tried several times, but went back to it. I knew the dangers of snuff and that it was a disgusting habit. Nobody dragged my arm. I chose to do it, chose to quit, girded my will power and accomplished this task. Period. Just like George W. Bush when he quit drinking.
    Speaking of alcohol, this is worse than tobacco. It causes drunk driving deaths and has to be as unhealthy as smoking cigarettes, but it is not a target. On top of that, the real kicker is that if you go to Hollywood parties, or hang out at certain industry hot spots in Studio City, Universal City, Beverly Hills, or Santa Monica, you will find movie executives puffing on huge cigars like the one Bill Clinton asked Monica to use as a phallic. Such hypocrisy.
    Russell Crowe played a tobacco exec a few years ago opposite Al Pacino in "The Insider", a film that never got anywhere. The crux of the film was that Brown & Williamson, a tobacco road company with a long, venerable tradition in old Carolina, had...shock...hid the fact that cigarettes are bad for people. For decades.
    Really? Bad for people?
    Basically they went out and advertised their product like any other capitalist organization, in an effort to get people to buy it. People buy tobacco for the same reason I used to buy it. They know it is bad for them. They joke and call them "cancer sticks." Oh, but kids are being duped, they say. There is no group of individuals on Earth more acutely aware of the danger of smoking than kids, to my knowledge. When my daughter was six or seven she was all over this issue. These same anti-tobacco crusaders are the same ones who will argue six ways from Sunday that marijuana should be legal, too. Let them stop abortion before stopping smoking.

    STEVEN TRAVERS
    AUTHOR OF "BARRY BONDS: BASEBALL'S SUPERMAN"
    STWRITES@AOL.COM...more info

  • The Insider
    Carrying the imprimatur of truth behind it-- and courtesy of Michael Mann's tense, semi-documentary shooting style-- the shocking events get brought into claustrophobic proximity, holding you breathless. A top-notch thriller by any standard. Both Pacino and Crowe are outstanding....more info
  • "I'm an Insider Too"
    We all know that it's sometimes worth it to take a second look at a film you may have been dismissive of before. To say, I didn't "get" THE INSIDER the first time I saw it would be something of an understatement. I didn't see it as all that revelatory--"'Big tobacco' corrupt?" "Big media craven?" "Mike Wallace has an ego and a temper on the scale of Mt. St. Helens?" Quelle surprise! There was nothing particularly new about all that. In fact, the only big news was that Russell Crowe was going the DeNiro route and altering his physical appearance for the sake of his art. (OK, OK, not as extreme but he did put on a few pounds and donned a less than flattering grey toupe.)

    Maybe it was something I ate that first time, though, 'cause the second time around, I have to admit, it was pretty riveting. This time out, I found the moral dilemmas facing Crowe's whistleblower and Pacino's muckraker TV producer pretty darn fascinating--despite the fact that I knew how it was all going to turn out. Oh yeah, and I finally got the fact that the title is supposed to be a little ambiguous and that,yes, Pacino's Lowell Bergman character is an "insider" too.

    Sometimes I'm a little slow, but eventually, if I'm lucky, I catch on. THE INSIDER is a quietly powerful and effective film. Apparently, it didn't manage to convince Russell Crowe to quit smoking, but--as a morality tale and as sheer drama--it's still pretty darn effective....more info

  • Powerful and moving, not to be missed
    "The Insider" is a riveting, gut-wrenching experience, which was largely ignored at the box office and got shafted in the Oscar race. Both of these occurrences are shameful because the public and the Academy failed to recognize one of the best of movies of the year (if not the best; I thought "American Beauty" was overrated), and probably one of the best movies of the 1990s.

    The most shocking aspect of "The Insider" is that it is all true. Everything portrayed on the screen actually happened (though enhanced for dramatic effect, of course). There is a man named Jeffrey Wigand (played by Russell Crowe), a former researcher at the Brown & Williamson (B&W) tobacco company. Upon being fired for "creative differences," he tapes an interview with "60 Minutes" in which he states that Big Tobacco executives (lovingly referred to as the "Seven Dwarfs") lied to Congress when they testified that the nicotine in cigarettes does not cause cancer. Wigand's confession violates his confidentiality agreement with B&W; his severance package (including health benefits for his asthmatic daughter) is terminated, and he and his family are threatened. He risks everything to expose one of the most egregious social injustices of our time--and CBS was not going to even air his interview for fear of being sued by B&W. As you are watching, ask yourself, "If you were in Wigand's position, would you do it?" Then you will see what courageous and driven man he must be.

    All of these feelings and emotions come out in Russell Crowe's power-packed, dynamite performance. He completely loses himself in Wigand's personality, and gives a heartfelt portrayal of a man trying to do good, but pushed back and tormented every step of the way. Crowe brings you along with him into Wigand's world, takes you into his personal hell, and eventually leads you out. Dramatic performances don't get better than this.

    Equally powerful is Al Pacino as a "60 Minutes" producer who fights to get Wigand's interview on the air. He is equally passionate about journalistic integrity and moral obligation, and steps into the ring with CBS execs to ensure that the truth is heard. He will not rest until the job is done, and will not accept no for an answer. He is believable, likeable and righteous; the scenes where he tries to earn Wigand's trust are awesome (he and Crow have good chemistry). This is Pacino's best turn in years.

    Kudos also to Christopher Plummer as "60 Minutes" anchor Mike Wallace, and to director Michael Mann for his gritty, no-nonsense filming.

    "The Insider" was nominated for 7 Oscars (including Best Picture, Best Director for Mann, and Best Actor for Crowe), and did not win a single one. I would have nominated Pacino for Best Actor, and Plummer for Supporting Actor, and would have actually handed out a few. The performances of each, especially Crowe, are worthy of Oscars. "The Insider" is a long film, but well worth it. It is a movie everyone should see; it will change how you view the world....more info

  • Gripping tale of men under pressure for doing what is right
    Gripping tale of two men laying everything on the line for what they believe in. Well-acted by the two leads Russell Crowe as a whistle-blowing former tobacco company executive Jeffrey Wigand, and Al Pacino as maverick "60 Minutes" producer Lowell Bergman, plus a superb performance by Christopher Plummer as Mike Wallace. Overwrought at times but Director Michael Mann successfully maintains a creepy, claustophobic atmosphere throughout, reflecting the pressure and scrutiny on Wigand. Excellent use of music and lighting as well. An usually critical look at big business for a mainstream American non-fiction film....more info
  • Great Movie!!!
    This was recommended to me by a quit smoking group. I highly recommend this to smokers/non-smokers alike. If I had known about this, I would have never started smoking. 4 ****!!!...more info

 

 
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