History of the World According to the Movies: Part 92 – 1990s Europe

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Helen Mirren stars as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in the 2006 The Queen in which she won a well deserved Oscar. The film is a portrait of the relationships between the British Royal Family and the Blair government amidst the tragic death of Princess Diana in a car accident, who was well loved by the public and not so much by the royals (though they were genuine upset by it). Still, you could also say that this film is about how Queen Elizabeth II was under pressure to publicly express her grief on Diana’s death despite being uncomfortable showing her emotions. Still, The Queen is a fitting film that shows what it’s like being a constitutional monarch in this day in age.

Of course, the United States wasn’t the only place where things were happening in the 1990s. After all, the Cold War ending in Europe led to a massive readjustment in Eastern Europe where the 1990s were certainly not a fun time. This is especially true if you lived in Yugoslavia which had been struggling since the 1980s to keep itself together since their dictator Josip Tito died, but it would ultimately fail in 1991 and by the end of the 1990s, the country would be no more since it would split in other nations like Croatia, Macedonia, Albania, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia, Slovenia, and Kosovo. Let’s just say it’s a hell hole for Europe. Of course, the other places in Eastern Europe besides the former East Germany, Romania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Poland would be kind of bummed that Communism fell, except perhaps hockey players and women athletes (especially in East Germany). In Britain, you have the rise of Tony Blair as well as a lot of drama in the royal family with Prince Charles and Princess Diana getting divorced, Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson getting divorced, and Princess Diana dying in a car accident in 1997 which led to Elton John singing at her funeral and his eventual knightood. Still, Britpop was in vogue at this time with Oasis and the Spice Girls (that would have one member marry a famous soccer player and another father Eddie Murphy’s baby). Nevertheless, there are movies made in this time that contain their share of inaccuracies which I shall list.

Europe:

The European Union was in existence in 1993. (It was known as the EEC or European Economic Community until 1993.)

Yugoslav Wars:

It was the Cincinnati Accords that kept the peace in Bosnia. (It was the Dayton Accords contrary to Behind Enemy Lines because the treaty was signed in Dayton, Ohio. And perhaps not for long.)

France:

Jean Dominique Bauby’s girlfriend at the time wouldn’t visit him in the hospital after he experienced a debilitating stroke. (While this is shown in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, his late-life partner Florence Ben Sadoun has claimed to be a faithful partner who visited him at Berck-Sur-Mer frequently during Bauby’s final days, driving from Paris for 3 hours 2-3 times a week to be with him {and she had 2 kids from a previous marriage as well}. And she has evidence to back it up since Bauby said so in his memoirs and there’s video footage as well. I think the writer for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly kind of owes Florence an apology.)

Jean Dominque Bauby’s baby mama visited him frequently while he was in the hospital. (Contrary to The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, it’s disputed how often Sylvie de la Rouchefoucauld visited him. She said she saw him frequently while other sources said she rarely did so and was with her boyfriend in New York the day Bauby died in 1997 and she’s hardly mentioned in his memoirs aside from a Father’s Day outing on the beach when she brings their kids to the hospital. Still, she wasn’t the long suffering ex who still loved him in the film who takes up the slack because his girlfriend wouldn’t see him. Rather she moved on. She never had to call up Bauby’s girlfriend or be worried about him being neglected because she’d be at his bedside as often as she could. Oh, and they had two kids not three since the director couldn’t decide between three child actors for the film. Then again, the mother of Bauby’s kids is a successful businesswoman with her own PR company)

During his time in the hospital Jean Dominique Bauby was an invalid babe magnet with women surrounding him in the hospital vying for his attention. (Bauby didn’t mention any of this in his book though friends said he was very charming with a sense of humor. He was also said to be engaging.)

Jean Dominique Bauby’s friend Jean Paul K came to see him in the hospital. (Contrary to The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Bauby wrote in his memoirs that he felt guilty for not seeing his friend after he had been released from being held hostage in Lebanon.)

Jean Dominique was a miserable wreck during his time having locked-in syndrome and wanted to kill himself. (His girlfriend Florence said that he never wished to die even when he was unable to move everything in his body but an eyelid.)

Florence Ben Sadoun was a weak-willed and selfish girlfriend to Jean Dominique Bauby and was unable to face her once handsome boyfriend. (Contrary to her portrayal in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, she was anything but. Also, she wasn’t a model at the time; she was a critic and a single mother of two.)

Great Britain:

Robin Janvin was Queen Elizabeth II’s private secretary in 1997. (Not until 1999, unlike in The Queen.)

Queen Elizabeth II:

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip shared a bed. (Though shown in The Queen, the British public have known that the royal couple don’t sleep in the same bedroom since 1982 when someone tried to break in into the Queen’s chamber at Buckingham Palace. However, this just applies to Buckingham Palace since it’s not the only royal residence.)

Between Princess Diana’s death and Queen Elizabeth’s public capitulation, opposition to the monarch dropped from 25% to zero. (Contrary to The Queen, support for republicanism has remained consistent for decades at 15-20% even before and after Diana’s death.)

Prince Charles was Queen Elizabeth II’s only child. (Though he’s the only one of her kids shown in The Queen, she has four kids including Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, and Prince Edward.)

Princess Diana:

Princess Diana had an affair in 1995 with surgeon Hasnat Khan. (Contrary to Diana, though the real Khan said that he and Diana knew each other and dated for two years, but neither he nor Diana have confirmed whether they were in what you’d call “true love.” Yet, this doesn’t stop close friends from saying that he was her “true love” but maybe this is what they’d want to believe. Still, it’s likely that Khan and Diana were no more than just friends, though she might’ve been more like a desperate, wounded stalker who wouldn’t leave him alone.)

Princess Diana dated Dodi Al Fayed to make Dr. Hasnat Khan jealous. (We’re not sure about that contrary to Diana. Also, she and Khan broke up on mutual terms since he couldn’t handle the media attention of her celebrity and she didn’t want to move to Pakistan.)

Princess Diana was a sweet natured, wistful, half-wit. (According to one critic of Naomi Watts’ Diana performance, yet she’s said to be quite smart who tried to make the world a better place but she was also conniving, manipulative, and materialistic. She was also driven by payback trying to make Prince Charles jealous such as posing in a revealing swimsuit on the south of France while the Prince of Wales hosted a 50th birthday party for Camilla Parker-Bowles. Yet, didn’t work since Charles had been in love with Camilla for years {as well as fooled around with her} and only married Diana due to pressure from his family. She was also estranged from her mom for dating a Muslim and hadn’t spoken in months before she died.)

Tony Blair:

Tony Blair and his family cooked their own food while he was prime minister. (Contrary to The Queen, I’m not so sure they’d even be allowed to do this. I mean the President of the United States has his own chef and servant retinue. Then again, maybe the Blairs prefer to cook themselves.)

Miscellaneous:

Adderall was around in the early 1990s. (It wouldn’t be on the market until 1996 and wouldn’t be sold in generic until 2002.)

Nintendo game cubes were around in 1995. (Not until 2001.)

LED warning lights were around in 1995. (Strobe beacons would’ve been used because I have no memory of hearing about LED until my teens.)

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History of the World According to the Movies: Part 91- Crime and Law Enforcement in 1990s America

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Anthony Mackie, Mark Wahlberg, and Dwayne Johnson star in Michael Bay’s too soon 2013 crime film Pain & Gain. This movie was based on a series of articles by Pete Collins which pertains to a group of violent and criminal bodybuilders as well as outright screw ups. Still, if there was an historic incident Michael Bay could do justice to, it’s this one. Yet, this film was met with outrage by their victims and their families nevertheless. Still, the real life Sun Gym gang wasn’t nearly as likeable as the guys in the movie and their crimes were much worse. Still, it probably would’ve been better if Michael Bay had made this movie perhaps 100 years after the events took place.

Despite the 1990s being a period of stability in the United States, there were plenty of stories on crime. After all, this is the decade when you have the O. J. Simpson’s Bronco chase and the media circus surrounding in his trial over the death of his ex-wife and her boyfriend. Of course, I was in preschool at the time but I sort of remember it being covered on the news and yes, I think he did it. Still, you have other stories of wrong doing as well. In Washington D. C., you have Stephen Glass who was a rising star in The New Republic until it was discovered that he was a pathological liar who may have made up stuff in his 27 out of 41 stories for the magazine which led to the rise in online journalism. In New York, you have Jordan Belfort, the so-called “Wolf of Wall Street” (which was also the nickname of Mr. Peabody), whose brokerage firm Sutton Oakmont was known as a den of sin as well as ran a “pump and dump” operation which would land him in prison for money laundering and securities fraud. He’d also share a prison cell with Tommy Chong. In the South you have con artist Steven Russell whose zany schemes and prison escapes seem too incredible to be true at times.Then there’s Miami, which is home of the Sun Gym gang who were a group of hostile bodybuilders known for kidnapping, extortion, and murder. There are a few movies about some of these exploits which contain their share of inaccuracies I shall list accordingly.

Steven Russell:

Steven Jay Russell escaped from prison wearing hot pants and fishnets. (Contrary to I Love You, Philip Morris, he did this wearing a women’s track bottoms and a tie-dyed T-shirt, since trying to escape prison wearing fishnet stockings and hot pants would be a very bad idea for a man {but certainly much more hilarious}. Also, he pulled this off in 1993, when he was still with his previous boyfriend, not Philip Morris as in the film.)

Steven Jay Russell escaped from prison by coloring his white prison uniform with green marker to resemble scrubs. (Yes, he did this but unlike in I Love You, Phillip Morris, there was a prison guard who wasn’t entirely convinced who said, “Damn, doc, those look like prison whites you’re wearing.” He cheerily replied, “Well, don’t shoot.” The guard didn’t.)

Jordan Belfort:

Jordan Belfort met Danny Porush in a restaurant. (Contrary to The Wolf of Wall Street, they met through Porush’s then wife {and first cousin} who met Jordan on the bus. She said Belfort always gave up his seat for her and found out he lived in the same building with them. She introduced her husband to Belfort thinking that he might help Danny with his struggling ambulette business. After their first conversation, Porush decided to take his Series 7 exam and get a stockbroker license.)

Jordan Belfort was arrested for crashing his Lamborghini while high on expired Quaaludes. (Yes, but the real Belfort says it was a Mercedes. He said he was so high in a drug haze that he couldn’t remember causing several different accidents on his way home, yet he did send one woman to the hospital via a head on collision. Interestingly, Belfort would later become a cell mate to Tommy Chong who encouraged him to write his memoirs.)

Jordan Belfort’s brokerage firm taped cash to a woman’s body. (While it’s seen in The Wolf of Wall Street, Danny Porush says it didn’t happen while Belfort says it did.)

Jordan Belfort hosted a dwarf tossing competition at Stratton Oakmont. (Though he considered hiring a dwarves for tossing, he didn’t actually do so. As Danny Porush said, “We never abused [or threw] the midgets in the office; we were friendly to them. There was no physical abuse.” Yet, it’s in The Wolf of Wall Street.)

Jordan Belfort was called “the Wolf of Wall Street.” (Contrary to The Wolf of Wall Street, the nickname came from an article about him. Also, he only briefly worked as a legitimate stock broker on Wall Street before the 1987 Black Monday crash that left him out of a job.)

Jordan Belfort had a chimpanzee at his Stratton Oakmont brokerage firm. (Contrary to The Wolf of Wall Street, he didn’t. According to Danny Porush, “There were no animals in the office…I would also never abuse an animal in any way.” Yet, he did admit to eating a goldfish.)

Jordan Belfort gave his employees at Stratton Oakmont riling motivational speeches. (Yes, but they were more often filled with self-adulation than Leonardo DiCaprio’s in The Wolf of Wall Street. Strangely the real Belfort is now working as a motivational speaker and corporate consultant. Yet, DiCaprio would say, “Jordan stands as a shining example of the trans formative qualities of ambition and hard work, and in that regard, he is a true motivator.” Yet, I’m not sure he’d be good in the role model department after the cheating, drugs, hazing, and his “pump and dump” schemes which led to being criminally charged, serving prison time, and having his company banned from brokerage activities.)

Stephen Glass:

The Stephen Glass story “Hack Heaven” showed how the ill-equipped The New Republic was to handling someone like him (who has systematically undermined the magazine’s editorial process) when it was exposed as a hoax in the Forbes Digital online magazine. (What’s not mentioned in Shattered Glass is that this episode was one of the key moments that established online media as a serious competitor to the traditional print rather than just a novelty. And this happened in 1998.)

Stephen Glass’ was a respected journalist for The New Republic until his “Hack Heaven” article. (Yes, but what Shattered Glass doesn’t point out is that while he enjoyed the loyalty of the staff, his reporting repeatedly drew outraged rebuttals from his article subjects that eroded his credibility and led to private skepticism in The New Republic. When scandal broke, the editor in chief Martin Peretz admitted that his wife didn’t find Glass’ stories credible and stopped reading them. During Glass’ time at the magazine, out of the 41 stories he published 27 of them were found to be either wholly or partly fabricated. He also wrote for other magazines such as The Heritage Foundation’s Policy Review, JFK Jr.’s George, Rolling Stone, and Harper’s. Not only that but he contributed to PRI’s This American Life hosted by Ira Glass {no relation}.)

The Sun Gym Gang:

The Sun Gym gang consisted of 3 main members. (Contrary to Pain & Gain, it was larger with Sun Gym owner John Mese, stripper Sabina Petrescu, and nurse Cindy Eldridge as accomplices.)

Daniel Lugo was single during the kidnapping of Marc Schiller. (He was married twice and both wives played tangential roles in his schemes. His second wife has divorced him since and won sole custody of their two daughters in 1998.)

The need to fund hormone injections motivated Adrian Doorbal’s crimes. (Contrary to Pain & Gain, he didn’t need to commit further crimes to fund them, thanks to Lugo giving him profits from the Medicare scam. He just participated in the Sun Gym gang’s criminal activities all for the violence.)

Daniel Lugo was a vicious bodybuilding moron. (Contrary to Mark Wahlberg’s portrayal in Pain & Gain, he was a smart man according to the guy who brought him down. He had other criminal activities as well such as a fraud conviction and running a lucrative Medicare scam where he bought information about the recipients and billed the government for bogus medical services. Also, he didn’t attend any self-help seminars, wore vanilla scented cologne, or cite Michael Corleone or Rocky as role models.)

The Sun Gym gang disguised as ninjas in order to kidnap Marc Schiller. (Contrary to Pain & Gain, they discussed dressing up as ninjas on Halloween night to abduct Marc Schiller. Rather they talked about dressing up as ninjas as part of their costume as trick or treaters in which they’d nab him when Schiller would give them candy. The Sun Gym gang was a group of bodybuilders in Florida so you can see why this plan was never executed. Yet, it did take about 6 tries for them to kidnap Schiller {Tony Shaloub’s character in the movie}. Still, they did dress in black, paint their faces with military makeup, and wore gloves in one of their kidnapping attempts.)

Daniel Lugo befriended Marc Schiller at the Sun Gym. (Contrary to Pain & Gain, Schiller distrusted Lugo and never went to the gym. It was actually Jorge Delgado who befriended Lugo and targeted Schiller since he worked for the man as did his wife. Not only that, but it was at Delgado’s {not Schiller’s} warehouse where the kidnappers tortured Schiller for a full month before trying to kill him. As the Miami New Times reported, “Throughout his ordeal with the gang, Schiller had been tased, burned, beaten, pistol-whipped, and forced to endure games of Russian roulette. When the gang was done with him, they made him wash down sleeping pills with liquor, put him behind the wheel of his Toyota 4Runner, and rammed it into a utility pole to make it look like a drunk driving accident. Seeing that he was still alive, they then doused the vehicle with fuel and set it on fire with him in it, but Schiller jumped out of the flaming car. Staggering, the gang ran him over twice with a Camry {not a van} and left him for dead. Miraculously, he lived after eventually coming out of a coma and woke up in the hospital.” Details of Schiller’s torture {which was much more of a living hell in real life} and escape were modified for the film. Oh, and even when Schiller was in the hospital, he organized to be transported to one in Staten Island since he was afraid the Sun Gym gang would try to kill him again. He was right.)

Daniel Lugo killed Frank Griga and Krisztina Furton. (Contrary to Pain & Gain, Adrian Doorbal did with Lugo as an accomplice at Doorbal’s Miami Lakes apartment no less. Doorbal cracked the side of Griga’s head with a blunt object, strangled him with a headlock, and injected him with horse tranquilizer. Lugo covered Furton’s mouth and tackled her yet contrary to the film, she was unarmed. Once bound, Doorbal injected her 3 times not 2, which was too much.)

Daniel Lugo and Adrian Doorbal put Frank Griga and Krisztina Furton’s body parts in barrels and dumped them in a lake. (Contrary to Pain & Gain, Lugo, Doorbal, and “Little Mario” Gray put Griga and Furton’s bodies in drums and dumped them in a drainage ditch in southwest Miami. Too bad for them, Furton had breast implants with serial numbers on them which the Miami police used to identify her remains.)

A member of the Sun Gym gang became acquainted with a demeaning Frank Griga while running into him at a strip club. (Contrary to Pain & Gain, Griga was discovered by Adrian Doorbal who spotted a picture of a Lamborghini Diablo in a photo album belonging to one of his stripper girlfriends Beatriz Weiland. He asked who owned it and it turned out that Griga was one of Weiland’s former generous boyfriends. It was she who introduced Griga to the Sun Gym gang.)

A chainsaw the Sun Gym gang planned use for cutting bodies failed to start due to it being clogged by hair. (It was actually due to them forgetting to put motor oil in it and burnt the engine while trying to start it which they returned to the Home Depot which they exchanged for an electric one with a one year guarantee to “handle all your cutting chores quickly and easily” {kind of reminds me of an episode of Dexter here}. Then that’s the time when Furton’s hair got clogged up in the chainsaw, which led to Adrian Doorbal and Daniel Lugo to chop off her head with a hatchet and used a curved blade and pliers to remove the faces and teeth on the heads.)

Jorge Delgado barbecued hands and feet of Frank Griga and Krisztina Furton outside the warehouse. (Contrary to the Dwayne Johnson expy in Pain & Gain, it was Daniel Lugo who did this and it was on a steel drum with an iron grate not an actual grill. He also grilled Griga and Furton’s skull fragments, too. When Jorge Delgado saw this, he yelled at Lugo who reluctantly agreed to move his operation to a nearby rear ally. Thankfully for them, Dexter wasn’t nearby {it being Miami}.)

At least one member of the Sun Gym gang robbed an armored truck only to get his toe shot off. (Contrary to Pain & Gain, this scene with Dwayne Johnson’s character is entirely fictional. Still, Dwayne Johnson’s character in the film as a composite of Jorge Delgado, Carl Weekes, and Mario Sanchez.)

Adrian Doorbal was a mild mannered man. (Contrary to Pain & Gain, he was violent and sadistic just as all his fellow Sun Gym gang members. And he was much more of an unstable lunatic as well.)

Daniel Lugo wanted to kidnap Marc Schiller over the latter stealing $300,000 from him. (Contrary to Pain & Gain, Lugo just wanted Schiller’s assets and used the money stealing as an excuse.)

One of the Sun Gym members worked at a church and had a gay priest come onto him. (Contrary to what goes on with Dwayne Johnson’s character in Pain & Gain, Carl Weekes didn’t work at a church or had an old gay priest come on to him. Yet, he was drug addicted ex-con who found Jesus.)

One of the Sun Gym members testified against is fellow gang members after an attack of conscience. (Contrary to Pain & Gain, Jorge Delgado just testified against his fellow gang members just to get a lenient sentence in which he got 15 years yet only served 7 ½ {while Daniel Lugo and Adrian Doorbal got the death penalty}. Dwayne John’s other real-life counterpart Carl Weekes who drove the car to run over Marc Schiller got 10 years for attempted murder. He served 7. Yet, he was described as a “weakling” by his fellow gang members since he weighed only 140 pounds. Still, like Dwayne Johnson’s character, both Delgado and Weekes declined to participate in subsequent crimes after the whole Marc Schiller thing.)

The Sun Gym gang held Marc Schiller for weeks because he was resisting. (They held him for that long because the paperwork to sign over everything he had took time. Yet, unlike in Pain & Gain, neither Daniel Lugo nor Adrian Doorbal had any qualms about killing him.)

Members of the Sun Gym gang were vicious morons and steroid-using bodybuilders. (Yes, they were steroid using bodybuilders. Yet, they were said to be the worst combination of manipulation, muscle, and murderous intent.)

Cindy Eldridge:

Cindy Eldridge was a heavyset nurse who met Adrian Doorbal during her work at the doctor’s office. They had a whirlwind courtship and married at home. (Contrary to her Rebel Wilson expy in Pain & Gain, she kind of resembled Tanning Salon Barbie and was a real fitness fanatic. Though she was a nurse who referred him to a doctor who used hormone therapy to treat the weak libidos of steroid users, she didn’t meet Doorbal as she was working but they rather met by chance in 1995 at a restaurant in Key Biscayne on the evening of her surprise 31st birthday party. Not only that, but they only married after dating for over a year at a courthouse but the union lasted for four days when she found out, Doorbal only married her so she couldn’t testify against him with regard to his role in kidnapping Marc Schiller or killing Frank Griga and Krisztina Furton, whose blood she helped Doorbal clean up at his home despite not knowing what actually happened at the time {you think she would being a nurse and all}.)

John Mese:

Sun Gym owner and accountant John Mese was arrested at his own gym. (Contrary to the Michael Bay movie, he was arrested during his own bodybuilding competition in downtown Miami. Also, two of the composites to Dwayne Johnson’s character were arrested at home, not at church. )

Marc Schiller:

Marc Schiller was a sleazy criminal. (Contrary to his Tony Shalhoub expy in Pain & Gain, the real Marc Schiller wasn’t a sleazy man in which he said, “There is no resemblance to me at all. I was always a humble, family person.” At the time, he lived in a two story poolside house with a wife and two kids as well as said that he never smoked cigars and was never surrounded by women in scantily clad bikinis {though having the Sun Gym gang kidnap a wholesome family man that Schiller wouldn’t elicit much sympathy on their part, especially since he drove a Toyota not a BMW with a “Miami Bitch” license plate}. He owned the failing Schlotzsky’s Deli franchise but still had seven figures at the bank thanks to his nutritional supplements companies. Still, the sleazy side of the Tony Shalhoub character in Pain & Gain may be based on Frank Griga who ran a phone sex business as well as smoked cigars surrounded by women in bikinis. As far as criminal activity is concerned, after he testified against the Sun Gym gang, he was arrested by federal agents as he left the courthouse. He was charged with orchestrating a Medicare billing scheme through his nutritional supplement companies. To make things worse, Sun Gym gang member Jorge Delgado was one of the witnesses to testify against Schiller, who pled guilty trying to conspiring to defraud the government. He received 46 months in prison and was ordered to pay back the government $14.6 million {it would be reduced to $128,597.87 and Schiller now insists he’s innocent and just too exhausted to defend himself}. Let’s say that unlike Mr. Monk’s kitchen floor, Marc Schiller’s record wasn’t exactly squeaky clean. Nevertheless, Marc Schiller wasn’t happy with Pain & Gain because the kidnapping incident basically ruined his life and he lost everything over it. Today he just lives in a one bedroom apartment, works for a company at $20 an hour, is divorced from his wife and only sees his kids on occasion, and has little interest in socializing and making friends. I think Michael Bay owes him an apology.)

Marc Schiller recognized Daniel Lugo from his cologne. (He recognized Lugo through his voice.)

Marc Schiller had a boat. (Contrary to Pain & Gain, he didn’t but Frank Griga did so Daniel Lugo couldn’t escape in it as he does in the movie.)

Marc Schiller helped catch Daniel Lugo by hitting him with a car in the Bahamas. (Contrary to Pain & Gain, neither Schiller nor Detective Ed DuBois were present at Daniel Lugo’s capture. Instead, Lugo was apprehended at the Hotel Montague in Nassau by a multiagency task force. Also, contrary to the movie, his girlfriend and parents went with him.)

Law Enforcement:

Ed DuBois:

Ed Dubois was a retired detective with a beautiful wife when he got the call from Marc Schiller. (Contrary to Pain & Gain, he was working for the NFL as a security consultant for Super Bowl XXIX in Miami and operating his P. I. firm he inherited from his dad {and as of 2014, he’s still working as private investigator}. He also had a leg up in the investigation because he knew the Sun Gym owner, John Mese. He was also much younger than as played by Ed Harris.)

Miscellaneous:

Frank Griga had a New York accent. (He had a Hungarian accent.)

History of the World According to the Movies: Part 90 – 1990s America

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Though it’s not really set in the 1990s per se, the 2007 adaptation Rent was one of the premiere musicals that shows what the 1990s was really like for people living in the Alphabet City in NYC, particularly struggling artists and hipsters.Nevertheless, it’s a remake of Puccini’s La Boheme with music that is most definitely from the 1990s and nobody is sporting big hair that’s more or less remembered from the 1980s.

As far as my cinematic historical chronology goes, the 1990s is a good place to stop since much of the history in the 2000s and later is more or less viewed as current events in my mind. Still, though I was around during this decade (born January 13th, 1990), I probably don’t have as much insight in the decade since I would be only 9 years old when it ends. Still, I do remember the advancement in computers with the early 1990s being the kind of 1980s type models operating with floppy disks, block lettering, and dark and blue screens to the viable Windows and Macs. It was also a time in which the World Wide Web was in its infancy though I wouldn’t have access to that until the 2000s. Nor would I have access to smaller cell phones, video games, or cable TV either despite having to play Spongebob in a play during my middle school years. Still, let’s say this period is marked by the end of the Cold War, the O. J. Simpson Trial, the Clinton scandals that would end up with his unnecessary impeachment, the break up of Yugoslavia, and the Y2K scare. Nevertheless, since this time is relatively recent, many people won’t consider it history but a lot of movies would be made.

1990s America was a good time in America as far as my childhood is concerned, well, okay since it was a stable and peaceful time compared to what was to come. Sure there was Desert Storm, Dan Quayle, and thousands of Americans having their childhood hero get away with killing his ex-wife (The People’s Almanac had O. J. Simpson as the #1 role model for teens in the 1970s, let that sink in). Still, this was the time of the internet boom and the economic boom under President Clinton. It was also a time of the Disney Renaissance from The Little Mermaid to Tarzan with movies that would be remembered as Disney classics (that I do remember, especially since I watched The Lion King in theaters when I was 4 years old). But this was a renaissance of animation with some great cartoons that have never been made since. Nevertheless, it was a time when hip-hop and rap really came of age which caused a moral panic while Seattle became the grunge capital of the world. Oh, and Kurt Cobain would cause a major splash in Nirvanna during the 1990s before dying of an overdose. Of course, there are quite a few films made at this time but many do contain their share of inaccuracies which I shall list.

Bill Clinton:

Bill Clinton won the 1992 Democratic primary against a candidate of almost unbeatable perfection whose own past included snorting cocaine and experimenting in homosexuality. (Contrary to his expy in Primary Colors, Clinton didn’t have much competition in the 1992 primary. Also, Joe Klein’s book Primary Colors shouldn’t be used as a source material if you want to know anything about the 1992 Clinton campaign since there’s a documentary on it.)

Erin Brockovich:

During the Hinkley case, Erin Brockovich hooked up with a hunky biker named George who was the next door neighbor watching her kids. (Contrary to Erin Brockovich, the man’s name was Jorge Halaby but the relationship didn’t last but don’t be upset because Jorge turned out to be a real asshole. Still, after the film was released, he along with her ex-husband Shawn Brown, and an attorney contacted her and attorney Ed Masry and blackmailed them into paying them $310,000 or else they would tell the media that they {she and Ed} had an affair and that she was an unfit mother, which were false. The three would be arrested for extortion, and though Halaby and Brown were later released, the attorney was jailed as of 2001.)

Erin Brockovich was the former Miss Wichita. (Despite being from Kansas, she was Miss Pacific Coast.)

Erin Brockovich used her cleavage to obtain documents. (While Julia Roberts does this in Erin Brockovich, we’re not so sure, though it probably helped.)

While working on a property case for Ed Masry, Erin Brockovich found that the groundwater in Hinkley might’ve been contaminated by hexavalent chromium which was connected to the horrible diseases suffered by the town’s residents. (Contrary to Erin Brockovich, this has been contested by some scientists who said that cancer rates in the town have never been higher than other remote desert communities in California. Yet, many state and federal agencies including the EPA, no less have found credible links between hexavalent chromium and higher rates of cancer {if inhaled long term at least, but consumption wouldn’t be eliminated altogether}. Perhaps this could be a case of both sides being right, I don’t know. Still, whatever the case, it was probably the right thing to sue Pacific Gas and Electric Company whose workers carelessly dumped the substance and let it seep into the groundwater used by Hinkley’s residents even if she wasn’t exactly right. Yet, we’re not sure how much hexavalent chromium was in Hinkley’s drinking water since Ed Masry’s numbers don’t match with the local water authority’s and other sources.)

Thanks to Erin Brockovich and Ed Masry’s efforts the plaintiffs in the Hinkley case against Pacific Gas and Electric with a $333 million settlement that went to the town’s 648 residents with Brockovich herself receiving a $2 million bonus check. (Though Erin Brockovich implies this and Brockovich did receive $2 million from the case, a good chunk of the money like $133 million went to the lawyers, which was over 40% including $10 million on expenses. Also, Hinkley’s residents didn’t get much of what was left until 6 months after the case with each town person getting $300,000 on average, which was less than expected but the distribution wasn’t equal. Some received several million while others got less. It was said that the distribution of money was based on medical records but Hinkley’s residents noticed that there was no rationale behind how much money each individual received. Some would appeal their settlements seeking more justifiable sums.)

Christopher McCandless:

Christopher McCandless resented his parents for some reason. (Contrary to Into the Wild, in the Jon Krakauer book, McCandless’ reason why he resented his parents was because they weren’t legally married. Rather his dad was already married to another woman and had a family with her, which his mother kept secret from him and pretended nothing was wrong for the sake of their reputation.)

Christopher McCandless worked at Burger King. (According to Jon Krakauer, he worked at McDonalds.)

Sports:

Mickey Ward and Dickie Eklund appeared in court together before Dickie went to jail for over multiple serious charges. (Contrary to The Fighter, Micky was arrested for interfering with Dickie’s arrest who committed a relatively minor offense.)

Micky Ward:

Micky Ward met his girlfriend Charlene Fleming in a bar in 1988 just before his fight with Mike Mungin. (Contrary to The Fighter, they actually met around the Neary fight in 2000 {which his mother didn’t attend} through his dad’s acquaintance. Thus, Amy Adams’ character probably shouldn’t be in the film at all. Also, at the time, he was still with his daughter’s mother who’d later leave him for a guy 30 years older. This led Micky to quit his job as a prison guard and take up boxing again. Still, his sisters weren’t happy with The Fighter who said they were portrayed as unattractive and angry drunks and Dickie Eklund actually got into Christian Bale’s truck and cursed him over it. Yet, he was pleased at Bale’s portrayal of him so I think Dickie complained to the wrong guy.)

Micky Ward was knocked down in a fight with Shea Neary. (He never was. Also, contrary to The Fighter, Neary was from Liverpool not Ireland.)

Micky Ward trained for his comeback without interference from his family alone. (Yes, but contrary to The Fighter, the decision to do so wasn’t as difficult because his brother Dickie was in jail and his dad was on his way to prison for defrauding two elderly women, including one with Alzheimer’s out of more than $90,000 which was her life savings. He said he just came back to boxing because he wanted to. Yet, even though his hand still nagged him as in the film, he had been bed ridden for 4 months after an embarrassing and serious work related injury he suffered while paving roads. He jumped off a roller and landed on a metal pole that ripped a one inch gash in his rear end and traveled four inches to his rectum. This required emergency reconstructive surgery of his bowels yet, good luck with finding Mark Wahlberg complaining about that in the movie.)

Dickie Eklund:

Dickie Eklund was arrested by cops while he was carrying on a prostitution scheme. (Contrary to The Fighter, this didn’t happen though he has been arrested after a man he had robbed went to the police. Dickie went to his sister’s house and hid in the closet to avoid police. She gave him up. Also, by 1995, he’s been arrested 27 times. Yet, he didn’t stay clean once he got out of prison and had been arrested in 2006 for cocaine possession.)

Music:

Ike Turner was still serving prison time in 1993. (He was released in 1991.)

John Denver died in 1996. (His plane crashed in 1997. Yes, he left the world on the jet plane but we’re sure he won’t be back again.)

Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, and Snoop Dogg were famous West Coast rappers in 1991. (Snoop Dogg wasn’t famous yet, while Dr. Dre was still part of the N. W. A. and had yet to release his first solo album.)

Sean Combs and Biggie Smalls were responsible for the 1994 Quad Studios shooting in New York where Tupac Shakur was shot five times. (Contrary to the 2009 Notorious, Combs denies this but Skakur believed that they knew about it before it happened. Still, him and Biggie were said to be friends before the shooting happened which led to their feud.)

The Notorious B. I. G. (a. k. a. Biggie Smalls or Christopher Wallace):

Biggie Smalls’ mom mistook her son’s drug stash as old mashed potatoes. (Contrary to the Notorious biopic, Violetta Wallace learned of her son’s drug dealing when her son was arrested in 1990 for possessing an unregistered loaded gun. Of course, she refused to believe it was possible at first but eventually confronted him in which he admitted that the accusations were true. Still, she also learned about some of the bad things he did after he became a star. Still, it’s funny that his real name was Christopher Wallace and that he did tell off his math teacher who said he’d never make it to no more than a garbage man by saying that he’d make more money as a garbage collector than his teacher {and his mother was also a teacher by the way despite calling him “Chrissy-Pooh” and did name him after Christopher Robin}.)

Biggie Smalls’ mother kicked him out of the house when he was 17. (Except, unlike in Notorious, she only kicked him out for two weeks after she discovered he was dealing drugs and took a life insurance policy on him. Of course, it would pay off seven years later.)

Biggie Smalls’ daughter was born in 1990 when he was released from jail. (Contrary to the 2009 Notorious, she was born in 1993 about nine months after he was locked up. But, yes, he had a daughter before he was famous.)

Biggie Smalls met Sean Combs after a friend submitted a tape he recorded. (Well, contrary to the 2009 Notorious, the story is more complicated than shown in the movie. Yet, the friend submitted the tape to a DJ for a rapper known as Big Daddy Kane who Biggie was an admirer of who passed on to an editor named Matty of The Source magazine where Biggie was listed among March 1992 “Unsigned Hype” column. Matty then passed the tape to Sean Combs at Uptown Records after he told him he was looking for some hardcore rappers. Still, Combs was a record producer at the label where he had started from intern to vice-president after dropping out of college following his promotion. He would earn “Puffy” as part of his collection of nicknames for his impatient and unruly behavior in 1993 which caused Uptown Entertainment’s CEO to fire him. He would later form Bad Boy Records taking Biggie and Craig Mack with him.)

Biggie Smalls’ car accident in 1996 impaired his health. (Well, yes, he did have to use a cane after that since the rod in his leg made him unable to walk during his two months in therapy but he weighed over 300 pounds so you do the math. Still, what Notorious fails to mention was that the car accident was a blessing in other respects since Biggie had health problems before the accident that could’ve been fatal if left untreated due to him having asthma and smoking a lot of pot. Thus, while Biggie’s 1996 car accident temporarily crippled him, it might’ve saved his life.)

Biggie Smalls mother had breast cancer. (Yes, but she beat it twice.)

Nobody is sure who killed Biggie Smalls. (Yes, this is true. Yet, contrary to the 2009 Notorious, Biggie’s killer was described as a black man wearing a suit and bow tie kind of like Brother Mouzone from The Wire. Also, he’s said to have driven a dark Chevy Impala.)

Biggie Smalls was supposed to be in Los Angeles at the time of his death. (Contrary to what the 2009 Notorious implies, according to Sean Combs, “That morning I got a call from Biggie. … He was supposed to go to London. He called me and said, ‘I’m not going to London.'” Biggie instead decided to go to LA with Combs to the Vibe party to celebrate finishing his second album Life After Death. Combs would confess, “The call just plays over and over in my head. I’m like, ‘What if he would have just got on the plane?'”)

Sean Combs (a. k. a. Puffy, Puff Daddy, P. Diddy, etc.):

Sean Combs gave Biggie Smalls a $60,000 advance for signing with Bad Boy Records. (According to Biggie’s mom Violetta Wallace, she writes in her book about her son, “The truth is, Christopher accepted the illusion of a friend and mentor for about $25,000. That’s the amount Puffy lured my son with… It was enough money to make my son believe that Puffy was ready to do anything for him.” Still, Combs really did care about him since he said the 2009 Notorious, “Going to watch the movie is one of the hardest things that I’ve ever done. It opened up so many wounds for me.”)

Tupac Shakur (a. k. a. 2Pac):

Tupac Shakur was shot in the head during the 1994 Quad Cities assault. (Yes and twice, he was but the 2009 Notorious ignores that he was also shot twice in the groin as well as the hand and thigh {though some sources said that he accidentally shot himself. He was also robbed of his jewelry. Then again, he was in New York to for a trial for sexual assault in which he was bailed out by Death Row Records who he signed on a 3 year contract and went to the Quad Studios to do a rap song that night.)

Tupac Shakur hooked up with Biggie Smalls’ wife Faith Evans. (While it’s implied in the 2009 Notorious, Tupac and Faith {a songwriter in her own right} were probably no more than acquaintances or professional colleagues. Though a magazine photo with Faith and Tupac made Biggie pissed off, Faith denies whether the two them hooked up. However, while rumors did exist, Tupac milked it for all it’s worth and accused Biggie of plagiarism in the process. Yet, whether Tupac really hooked up with Biggie’s wife or was just saying it to piss him off can’t be confirmed.)

Miscellaneous:

The Trump World Tower existed in the 1990s. (Construction didn’t begin until 1999 yet its appearance in the 2009 Notorious can be forgiven.)

Gary Locke had a thick Chinese accent. (His portrayal in Battle in Seattle is offensive since he speaks English like a native since he’s a 3rd generation Asian American.)

The 21 Blackjack team consisted of white MIT students. (Contrary to 21, the team was almost completely Asian, including the main character and the guy played by Kevin Spacey. Also, they came from other schools like Princeton and Harvard. Also, none of the students got beaten up by Vegas casino security, used strippers to cash out their chips, or even drink, visit strip clubs, or play slots.)

The Stratosphere Tower was in Las Vegas in the 1990s. (It wasn’t completed until 1996.)

The Union Bank of California was around in 1992. (It was formed in 1996.)

The Energy Consol Center was in Pittsburg during the early 1990s. (Why is this in The Perks of Being a Wallflower? It wasn’t built until 2008.)

The Marlboro Man died of cancer. (Contrary to Thank You for Smoking, there has been more than one Marlboro man but the first Marlboro man who appeared in the 1960s commercials died of AIDS in 1996 {and yes, he was openly gay who owned a bar}. Two of the verified guys who appeared as the Marlboro Man are said to be still alive. Still, there have been four guys who claimed to be the Marlboro Man who have died of smoking related illnesses like cancer with two of them being anti-smoking activists. There may even be a fifth.)