The word means, quite simply, the quality of appearing real – which is why it sppears so often in reviews of films, especially those based on true events.

Take, for example, ‘To Catch A Killer’, the 1992 television miniseries about the arrest of John Wayne Gacy, as played by Brian Dennehy in a virtuoso performance. A title card at the film’s outset establishes the rules-

And the film does a pretty accurate job of covering the last two weeks of Gacy’s freedom, from the killing a drug store stock boy to his arrest for the murders of 33 young men.

The producers even do their best to make it period-appropriate, since the film is set in the year 1978. The cars are all the correct vintage, as are the clothes, hell, someone even makes a comment about the minimum wage being 2.50 an hour. So it’s obvious that the production cared about verisimilitude.

And then this happens –

Gacy is hanging out with a potential victim in his rec room. Nothing weird about that, right?

Um… yeah. In 1978, Michael Jordan was 15 years old. I mean, I’m sure he was already a great basketball player, but he wasn’t actually being merchandised yet.

This is such a weird mistake, too – it’s not like an extra who forgot to take his digital watch off while putting on a tunic – this is a cast member with actual dialogue, who was being paid real money to be there, wearing clothes picked out by a wardrobe supervisor and then approved by someone who makes more money than she does.

Not to mention every single person on the set that day – every single one of them looked at that shirt, saw the Michael Jordan logo, and didn’t do or say anything about it.

Ah, moviemaking.

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