I was disappointed to see the crap rating from rotten tomatoes. I loved this movie. Chronicling the genesis of the CIA, at nearly 3 hours, it was plodding enough to feel authentic and perhaps that's what I enjoyed. It rang true from start to finish. And this exchange between Damon and Pesci illuminated, in my view anyway, the organizing psychology of the American ruling class, for better or worse.
I've often been curious about the business of contributing scientific expertise to movies and television - how one gets the work, do they listen, that sort of thing. In "My life as an advisor to TV and film", Wayne Grody describes his work for the Nutty Professor and CSI, among others.
For both Eddie Murphy Nutty Professor movies, the studio's Art
Department asked me for assistance in designing the set for Professor
Klump's laboratory. They came to my research lab at UCLA and took lots
of pictures, then we sat down with the Fisher products catalog and
started on page one as I pointed out what they needed to order as
"props" (with a budget of $50 million, money was no object) ....Sometimes my advice goes unheeded. Klump was supposed to be a
biology professor at a small liberal arts college, but his laboratory
occupied an entire soundstage on the Universal Studios lot -- about ten
times larger than the best-funded faculty member at a major research
university. And while we tried to make it look as much like a
real-world molecular biology lab as possible (I brought my graduate
students along with me to help "dress the set"), when the director
arrived for the first scene to be shot there, he ordered some of the
visually boring thermal cyclers and centrifuges replaced by flasks and
tubes of bubbling green and purple liquids -- more reminiscent of Dr.
Frankenstein's laboratory than a modern facility.... ...Even on the dramas, however, a cherished scientific truth will
sometimes have to be discarded in order to enable an essential story
development, such as a normally three-week-long forensic DNA analysis
that's fictionally done in one hour for the sake of plot pacing. In
truth, few will ever notice these gaffs. As one TV producer told me,
the number of Ph.D. scientists watching his show accounts for no more
than 0.00001% of the Nielsen rating audience.
The bit about thumbing through a Fisher catalogue and budgets reminded me of a colleague ranting over beers about how the resources devoted to CGI on Finding Nemo dwarfed but at least one order of magnitude most large scale bioinfomatics efforts. I think of a big project as something north of $5 million. But that's just walking around money for the film industry.