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PopPolitics: Oren Moverman on Why ‘The Dinner’ Is ‘Very Trumpian’ (Listen)

Variety logo Variety 5/7/2017 Ted Johnson
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Oren Moverman says that his new movie “The Dinner” is “very Trumpian” — and points to the premise of his project as proof.

Steve Coogan stars as a school teacher who suffers from mental illness, and Richard Gere plays his brother, a rising politician. They and their wives meet for dinner one night at a high-end restaurant, and as their stories unfold, they begin to grapple with their crisis. Their sons have been involved in a brutal attack on a homeless woman.

“They have their privilege and they have their lives, and they don’t really see other people as human,” Moverman tells Variety‘s “PopPolitics” on SiriusXM. “I think something in this era — people talk about post-truth, but it is also post-humanist in that way. The humanism that is at the core of society keeping it together, moving toward better and better solutions for people in their lives… are kind of out the window. There’s a lot of self preservation, a lot of self interest dictating policy and I think that is at the core of some of these characters’ behavior.”

“Trumpian,” Moverman says, is just a term for what has been happening in society in recent years. As he wrote the script, based on a Dutch novel, he saw reports of a Texas teenager responsible for a drunken driving crash that killed four people. His defense came to be referred to as a case of “affluenza.”

Moverman also sees the movie as a way to bring up the issue of mental health treatment. Gere’s character is sponsoring a piece of legislation to bolster coverage for mental health. “We have a certain stigma that has been put around mental health, where a lot of people are really trying to bring that conversation into the open,” Moverman says.

Listen here.

Laura Poitras on WikiLeaks and Trump

For her new documentary “Risk,” Laura Poitras followed Julian Assange for five years through the rise of WikiLeaks, his escape from extradition at the Ecuadoran embassy in London, and, most recently, his involvement in the release of hacked emails during the 2016 election. Poitras gives a much more nuanced view of Assange and WikiLeaks, and whether it was used as a tool of the Russians during the campaign. But she says that she is alarmed that the site is a target of the U.S. government — and that other journalists should share her concern.

Listen here.

“PopPolitics,” hosted by Variety’s Ted Johnson, airs from 2-3 p.m. ET/11-noon PT on SiriusXM’s political channel POTUS. It also is available on demand.

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