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Critics' Picks

'Network' / 'The Hospital'

October 22, 2009|Betsy Sharkey

Where is the searing insight of Paddy Chayefsky when we need it? If ever a screenwriter could put troubled times in perspective it was Chayefsky. Two of his finest screen tonight at the Aero Theatre, a one-two punch to the gut that kicks off with 1976's "Network." A study in prescience, "Network" envisioned the perils of reality TV years before it existed as millions tuned in to watch Peter Finch's newsman Howard Beale self-destruct in front of them ("Jon & Kate Plus 8," anyone?). Faye Dunaway's icy producer forever running the numbers would win her an Oscar, one of four the film would take home. The 1971 film "The Hospital," with its issues of poor care and its habit of killing patients, turns out to be remarkably salient today as well. Brilliant, but scary -- then again, that was Chayefsky.

-- Betsy Sharkey

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