Monday, May 31, 2010

Movies: All the President's Men

Nothing soothes the burn of a trans-Pacific flight like 1975 Pacino and 1976 Hoffman: the best actors the decade had on offer. Hoffman as Carl Bernstein shares his limelight not only with Redford as Bob Woodward (or Woodstein, as their editor at one point calls them), but with a killer screenplay based on those author's book on the Watergate scandal—something I never found very interesting until this film.

I don't find Nixon a particularly interesting character and haven't enjoyed any Nixon movies, but he's wisely left out of this film, which is really an investigative procedural more than a political drama. We already know that Nixon is at the bottom of the Watergate break-in, so are more concerned with whether or not our heroes at the Washington Post will finally get front-page exposure for their story, and whether they'll be able to find a source willing to go on the record. In short, the movie is as much about news room politics as it is about national politics, and, perhaps strangely, I find the former far more interesting, so appreciate that indulgence.

It's interesting to see how State of Play, another of my airplane movies, basically ripped off its entire strategy from All the President's Men. One would have thought, after more than 30 years of innovations and achievements in filmmaking, SoP would have been more compelling, but it's unfortunately not. I found it disappointing when I saw it, but now having seen what so clearly inspired it, I find it insulting.

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