Your Avatar: The journalist and opinion columnist Charles Lane has been getting a lot of smack from various progressive political blogs and bloggers for his criticism of some rhetorical flourishes made by Ezra Klein in wake of Joe Lieberman's...well, we're not really interested in all that at the moment. Anyway, he was recently awarded Atrios' coveted Wanker of the Day award by the influential lefty blogger Atrios, and if you are interested, that blog post will take you where you need to go. Anyway. With all this talk about Lane I got to thinking the same thing I did when I first saw Shattered Glass, and the below photos, I think, competently illuminate my question: "Was there ever a real life figure done more of a favor in his motion picture depiction than Charles Lane?"
I mean seriously. That's the real deal above. Putting aside the fact that he clearly doesn't know how to pose for a picture (which he really ought not be judged on, let's face it)...well, the guy simply doesn't radiate savoir-faire, that's one thing. Now let's have a look at Charles Lane as portrayed by Peter Saarsgard in Billy Ray's 2003 Glass.
Good looking, so refined. Contemplative. The gaze both steely and poetically faraway. And the tie. And the hair. I never thought of Peter Sarsgaard as a knockout before, but man. Look at him.
In her review of Inglourious Basterds earlier in the year, my pal Manohla Dargis dismissed the notion of a "suave film critic" as "a risible fiction." I posit here that the notion of a suave New Republic editor is even more risible. But there is no fiction so risible that a fine actor cannot sell it. So I hold: Sarsgaard and Ray did Lane one of the best favors of his life.
Of course, when one is on the subject of film fictionalizations of actual journalists, one recalls the standard-bearer, All The President's Men, in which Washington Post investigative dudes Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were played by Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman respectively. One might argue that the glamorization factor in this picture is even moreso than in Glass, particularly given the pronounced resemblance Bernstein bears to Chewbacca in photo above. But the actual Woodward and Bernstein were not without a certain native charm, and went on to become real-life celebs of a sort themselves.
Also, Hoffman and Redford really underplayed in the roles. While Redford could not fully suppress the magnificence that was his genetic inheritance, he played everything else down, essaying an interesting portrait of Woodward as a somewhat socially maladroit data-nerd. Sarsgaard's Lane in Glass seems like something of a hipster in comparison.
So the question here, I suppose, should be two-fold: What are your favorite portrayals of journalists—real life or fictional—in motion picture, and what's the biggest difference between an actual person and his or her fiction film depiction you've ever seen?