Monday, April 20, 2015

"11:59": A reporter's "dream" lets him change history

11:59”, by Jamin Winans (2005), is another dramatic film about a journalist, posing ethical questions, but somewhat artificially set up as a sci-fi thriller.
Aaron Doherty (Raymond Andrew Bailey, chosen from over 300 applicants for the role) is a free-wheeling reporter wanting it all, something like an AC360 career, working in Denver and the high plains to the east.  His one disability is asthma.  After reporting the story of the capture of a suspect in a child abduction and murder, his boss (Liz Cunningham) gives him accolades, and he celebrates in a bar.  Suddenly, he wakes up in an empty prairie the next day.  He soon finds he has missed a whole day, some major news (a political announcement and assassination of the suspect) and his boss almost fires him.
Trying to fix his negligence, he suddenly wakes up in the prairie again.  Was he just dreaming and unable to awaken from rem sleep?  He soon finds out that it is the day before, and the prescience of his “alternate universe” experience enables him to help the cops prevent the assassination, and then expose a plot of political corruption involving getting enemies framed for sex crimes.  Then he finds the boy in the prairie, after which his car stalls and he has to carry the boy to the road and flag a motorist.  Then he has his nearly fatal asthma attack.
This review may have a lot of spoilers – a ten year old film – but the story and screenwriting illustrate the doctrine of creating rooting interest and urgency.  I don’t think that is always necessary – sometimes enigma and mystery work better. The film makes a good point about the danger of being framed for horrible crimes, and it happens more often than our criminal justice system would like to admit. 
Some of the dialogue, from his boss, illustrate the problems in “professional” journalism.  On the one hand, there is the concern over ratings.  On the other, is the expectation that a journalist “pays his dues” by doing dangerous leg work, often investigating crime or doing conflict reporting overseas and risking violence and kidnapping.  In those terms, I haven’t paid my dues.  But maybe my own life story does in other ways.
The director, in the extras, says that he starting raising money for this film at age 20, and it took seven years to make. The actor had to do heavy physical training for the role – as a reporter.
The DVD (Tartan and Double-Edge films) contains a short, “Spin”, about the virtuosity of a DJ in downtown Denver.
The film should not be confused with “11:14” (2004), a rather convoluted thriller by Greg Marcks. 
Wikipedia attribution link for Overland Trail Museum in Sterling, CO on the high plains (also in the supposed “cattle mutilation” country, as in the 1980 film “The Return” and 1982 “Endangered Species”). Photo by Jeffrey Beall, used under Creative Commons Share Alike 3.0 license.  I visited Sterling on a Saturday in August 1994, and it was while eating lunch in a diner there, I made my finale decision to write my first DADT book.

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