REVIEW: Two Years A Slave: The Nikki Finke Story
“TWO YEARS A SLAVE: THE NIKKI FINKE STORY” is a Hollywood tale about Hollywood. Needless to say, middle America and the rest of the world really cared about rich white people’s Hollywood problems – so a retro doc drama camera shaker was needed to explain to the poors what happened.
The plot is this; way back before the invention of Twitter – I know, how did we live in those dark times – Nikki Finke realised she could write about the entertainment industry, piss some people off, and get hits for it. Having left 4CHAN, she decided to cover the Writers Strike on Deadline Hollywood Daily. The Writers Strike of 2007-2008 was a terrible time for the industry, no doubt about it, and Nikki provided somewhere where Big Media’s point of view – and the writers – was snarked, picked apart, and basically journalism happened. She was the underdog, and it was glorious. She also sat at her keyboard approximately 26 hours a day, dispatching the news, somehow disconnected from actually being outside with the people she was covering.
Nikki continued hard hitting journalism, while middle America read with baited breath as stories were broken. Some scenes include phoning up other journalists, publications, and publicists to swear at them and threaten to have them fired for not giving her exclusives. These scenes underline that Nikki is a power player journalist in Hollywood.
Several years later, a rich white pimp called Jay Penske — played by Michael Cera in a giant wig– offered her millions of dollars to buy Deadline, poured millions more dollars into building the site as a business and recruiting staff. Jay was a terrible owner. He made Nikki work 23 hours out of 24 hours, forcing Nikki to fly to Hawaii and stop posting on the site. Nikki knew that if she didn’t cover the Box Office, the planet would stop turning and the world could no longer continue.
At this stage, the world waited in baited breathe, and Hollywood stopped producing movies. In one powerful scene, the staff at Rentrak are seen sobbing in their Toyota Prius while fondling their iPhones to tweet “WHY NIKKI! WHYYYYYY!”
Cera’s performance as Jay Penske was chilling to the core, as he worked behind the scenes to try to get Nikki Finke to do some work. Nikki is seen tweeting and doing public and private interviews about how terrible her plight is, as she continues to be made millions of dollars to work under the contract she signed until 2016. The people who Penske hired to run Deadline Hollywood run Deadline Hollywood.
At this stage, the movie takes a chilling turn — and without wanting to give spoilers, there is a harrowing scene where Nikki logs into WordPress and has to write a box office report using data from other companies while sat on her bottom. I’m never going to look at the WordPress administrator console in the same way.
Nikki’s plight will open up emotional moments for all of America. We’ve all felt crushed by own decisions. Well, fuck karma. We’re all Nikki Finke now.