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In Brief: "A Bright Shining Lie"

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You haven’t yet missed A Bright Shining Lie (Tuesday, June 2, 8 to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, June 7, 10 p.m. to midnight; HBO), the earnest adaptation of Neal Sheehan’s wonderful book on John Paul Vann in Vietnam that got so much negative advance publicity because people like David Halberstam and Daniel Ellsberg didn’t much care for what they saw of themselves in the script. In the real world, of course, not every Ben Bradlee gets to be played by Jason Robards. If Halberstam has a righteous gripe (he’s not nearly as nerdy as Donal Logue is playing him), Ellsberg should be grateful for Eric Bogosian. A bigger problem is that Vann, on whom Sheehan spent a thousand tortured pages, was a lot more complicated than a two-hour movie with Bill Paxton as a kid who didn’t get to West Point because his mother was a prostitute, and that Vietnam was even more complicated than Vann, and not all the location shooting in Thailand will make sense of the surreal tapes in our own heads.


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