Molly's Game · Reader Recommendations

Plus: Elizabeth Holmes casts blame

Molly’s Game: Book vs. Film! I ripped through Molly “the Poker Princess” Bloom’s memoir/tell-all a couple weeks ago; as I mentioned in my Goodreads review, on a writing level it’s not great (it reminded me to a degree of the girly-glib prose “stylings” of a Bachelorette), but it really moves, and it’s one of those books that has a way of alerting you to a section you can skip.

It also names names -- not a lot of names, but names, and it exposes Tobey Maguire as an emotionally abusive, usurious shitwit, something the film version doesn’t do, although it does feature several scenes in which Bloom (Jessica Chastain, excellent as usual) and her attorney (Idris Elba, on autopilot) argue over why she won’t name names. The film has some information the book doesn’t in re: why this is in fact a true-crime story and not just another overwrought poker roman a clef smelling faintly of Luxor urinal cake, but downplays Maguire’s petty douchery quite a bit -- which is a pity, as in his few scenes as “Player X,” Michael Cera is serving gelidly hostile “been famous too long even to bother aping compassionate behavior” realness. 

The other big name, the one that literally dissolves in a glass in the movie, is Alex Rodriguez, but the book doesn’t have much on him that you don’t know from living in the world -- he’s a try-hard, something he’s kind of steering into lately anyway -- and what the book tends to have too much of (moist break-ups with Dodger scions; Bloom’s truncated skiing career) is mostly glossed here, although there’s a soggy scene towards the end with Bloom and her dad (Kevin Costner) that made me reaaaally feel the two-and-a-half-hour run time. 

But the movie is good: Sorkin-y, but in the good, snappy ways, and his writing and Chastain make the book’s often-strained claims of acumen and savvy credible; the onscreen Bloom is more interesting than Bloom’s own prose. Neither is essential, but I can recommend either as a read or a watch that’s fizzy, fast, and not too heavy or too granular on the poker. If you have to pick one, though, I have now armed you with the shit the film declined to talk, so: the film. Showtime subscribers should have access to it and I believe it’s on iTunes for everyone else, though you may want to wait for the price to drop. -- SDB


Elizabeth Holmes is reportedly hoping to put Bad Blood author John Carreyrou on trial. As you might recall, Carreyrou covered Theranos for the Wall Street Journal, then published his book on the case last year. (Sarah and guest Stephanie Green covered in on The Blotter Presents last September.)

According to Bloomberg, Holmes is pushing prosecutors in her case to turn over information they might have on Carreyrou’s interactions with federal agencies, regulators, and doctors. In a court filing, her lawyers said that the reporter “went beyond reporting the Theranos story,” allegedly encouraging sources to file reports against the company, then prodding regulators to pursue the complaints. From the filing:

The jury should be aware that an outside actor, eager to break a story, and portray the story as a work of investigative journalism, was exerting influence on the regulatory process in a way that appears to have warped the agencies’ focus on the company and possibly biased the agencies’ findings against it. The agencies’ interactions with Carreyrou thus go to the heart of the government’s case.

A spokesperson for the WSJ says that the publication stands behind Carreyrou’s reporting and conduct.

In response, the DOJ detailed seven fairly standard messages Carreyrou and one other WSJ staffer sent federal officials, saying “beyond these emails and voicemails, we are not aware of any communications involving Mr. Carreyrou or other WSJ reporters relating to the investigation or prosecution in the possession, custody, or control of the prosecution team.” -- EB


Best Evidence readers have a lot of great ideas. Between email, social media, comments, and open threads, our readers have sent along several recommendations that we think deserve to be shared -- especially since we’re headed into a holiday weekend where you might have some time to spare. Let’s get into it! -- EB

There’s a dramatic adaptation of the Talwar case called, uh, Talwar. Margaret pointed us to this 2015 film, which is a fictional version of the same case that documentary The Talwars: Behind Closed Doors will cover for HBO (or covered, for those of you who watch HBO Asia) on July 16-17. “It's a solid police procedural and stars the dreamy Irrfan Khan,” she says. It’s available for streaming on US Netflix (blessedly subtitled, not dubbed) and can be viewed here.


Margaret also suggested that we check out an Irish Times longread on the Ana Kriégel murder trial. The story, which is headlined “Ana Kriégel murder trial: The complete story” is also available in podcast form starting here. The case “covers incredibly difficult ground -- children murdering children,  the admittance of internet searches as evidence, the wobbly line between “dark but not atypical teen interests” and “intent to kill.” and is very even-handed with the balance of power. There's a lot in it about confessions and interrogation that is starkly relevant in the post Central Park 5 conversation.”

After reading Sarah’s review of The Art Of Justice, Amanda recommended an episode of the podcast Criminal on another courtroom sketch artist. The ep, entitled “Pen & Paper,” is about Andy Austin. Austin also wrote a book about her experiences on the job (she got her start in Chicago in the 1960s) called Rule 53: Capturing Hippies, Spies, Politicians, and Murderers in an American Courtroom. On the podcast, she says that she “only made someone look bad on purpose once,” and now I have to go listen to find out who that was. Can I just say that John Wayne Gacy never looked better than at her hand? Check it:

In reference to serial killer Israel Keyes (a book about whom was released Tuesday), Kate recommends True Crime Bullsh**, which is a podcast about Keyes and his crimes. It kicked off last December and is now on its 19th episode, so if you start now you’ll be done by the weekend.

Tara suggests that if you’re as skeptical about the motives of Live P.D. as I am, you might be interested in a piece -- by Citations Needed podcast co-host Adam H. Johnson - on why “ride-along” TV shows are so problematic. Building off the arguments we’ve discussed before from Running From Cops, Johnson argues for The Appeal’s “Media Frame” column that these series should be banned, as they “interfere in legal cases, exploit people of color, and threaten lives.” You can read the piece here.


Monday on Best Evidence: Who knows? Since we’re going to be taking Thursday and Friday off for the holiday/Sarah’s wedding anniversary/etc., all sorts of thrilling things could happen by then. We’ll see! (But keep an eye out for an open thread on Unsolved Mysteries at week’s end.)


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