Review: MIKE WALLACE IS HERE Is A Captivating And Relevant Portrait Of Journalism

FIRST IMPRESSION

Using the past as a lens through which to look at the present, Avi Bekin's Mike Wallace Is Here is a nuanced and entertaining look at the role of news in politics.

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Directing
Entertainment Value
Technical Merit

Mike Wallace Is Here, directed by Avi Belkin, is a new journalism documentary that couldn’t have come at a better time in the political climate. Taking a look at the career of newsman Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes fame, this film provides a commentary on the role of media and the news on the political world as a whole.

Few names are as iconic in the news world as Mike Wallace. Wallace and 60 Minutes truly revolutionized the way the American public received their television news, and as such, his story and the story of the program are extremely compelling. However, instead of taking a straightforward biographical approach, director Belkin tells Wallace’s story through his work, using Wallace’s interviews as the primary means of conveying information.

To fill in some of the gaps, Belkin uses interviews conducted by others with Wallace or other members of the 60 Minutes team to provide additional context for the history of the program. Nothing speaks to the brilliance and personality of Wallace like the work he did, though, as his hard-hitting interview style came to set a precedent for the ways that journalists would conduct business in the future.

Wallace’s story feels relevant now more than ever because of the seemingly ever-increasing role the news has on our lives. In this era of the so-called “fake news media”, the American public needs to be aware of the way that the press operates and functions, and this movie provides a unique and interesting snapshot of that process.

mike wallace is here clapper
Mike Wallace in MIKE WALLACE IS HERE, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

Also interesting are some of the interviews featured in the film. Over the course of his career, Wallace interviewed some of the most influential figures of the 20th century, some of which (such as Donald Trump or Vladmir Putin) remain hugely influential today. It is interesting to see the differences in how the media approached these figures in the past and now.

Partially because of how important it feels and partially because of how well-made it is, this documentary ends up being extremely entertaining. Even if you were a devout viewer of 60 Minutes for the entirety of Wallace’s career, you are sure to see something new, as the movie also provides some additional behind-the-scenes glimpses, such as clips before and after the cameras started rolling for broadcast.

On a technical level, the film is definitely very impressive. Belkin edited this movie in a way to deliver his information and message in as efficient and captivating a way as possible. At times, some of the methods of presentation used, like split screen, feel very modern and creative, and at other times, Belkin allows the footage to be presented raw and speak for itself. The score is also very sleek and does a good job of giving the film an effective rhythm.

If you are interested in journalism or politics, Mike Wallace Is Here is an absolute must-see documentary for you. A captivating look at one of the most influential news figures of all time, you are sure to be enlightened and entertained by what director Avi Belkin has in store.

Mike Wallace Is Here opens in theaters on July 26.

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Sean Boelman
Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.

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