Finnegan On Films: Two True Stories To Watch On Netflix

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James Finnegan looks at two very different true stories available to watch on Netflix…

Many years ago, a wise friend told me there were three sides to every story – your side, my side and what actually happened.

I would now suggest there is a fourth side – what Hollywood says happened.

Of course, it is impossible to summarise a life into ninety minutes. Sometimes event and characters have to be, at best, amalgamated or, at worst, ignored.

Continued below…

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However, here are two choices from the Netflix selection that I think you might enjoy.

The first actually has a Tralee connection. First Man is based on the life of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the Moon. Armstrong visited Tralee in April 1997 and the Neil Armstrong Way in front of Siamsa Tire commemorates this occasion.

Ryan Gosling in ‘First Man’.

The film concentrates on his life and times, his work, private tragedies as well as the events surrounding the lunar landing in 1969.

That the film was based on the authorised biography gives it a distinct credibility, and the film delivers the performances his story demands and deserves.

Ryan Gosling plays Armstrong the man, as opposed to the world famous hero, which was exactly the tone that Armstrong gave on his Tralee visit.

He was a quiet, dignified and respectfully private man and we see a number of the events through his life that obviously fundamentally shaped his character.

His first wife, Janet, is played by Claire Foy, in an excellent complimentary performance. The story also gets the strong support cast which the story deserves.

Directed by Damien Chazelle, who also directed Whiplash and La La Land, for which he won the Oscar, and with a stunning soundtrack by his frequent collaborator, Justin Hurwitz, this is a film that received many nominations, but perhaps not the actual awards it deserved.

Patch Adams perhaps comes into a strange category of semi-biographical comedy drama, but has a cast of truly unique talents notably Robin Williams and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Robin Williams in ‘Patch Adams’.

Williams plays the title role, Dr Hunter ‘Patch’ Adams, Hoffman his more straight laced roommate, Mitch Roman. How sad that both actors are now gone.

Adams has his own difficulties and challenges, so admits himself to a mental institution. He finds that the use of humour, rather than more traditional medical treatments, help him and his fellow patients. In fact, he is inspired to become a Doctor himself.

However, he finds that the Teaching College methodology is best for passing medical exams rather than treating the individual patient in a bespoke manner.

The conflict between the gifted individual and the formal structure is not a new one, but thus story has the benefit of the wonderfully talented Williams, to whom this role must have had so many personal resonances.

Directed by Tom Shadyac, who also directed Liar Liar and The Nutty Professor, this is a film that has been both praised and criticised by the real Dr Adams, so make of that what you will. Enjoy and stay safe.

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