I saw STATE OF PLAY today and thought it was a great film: a fascinating combination of ideas and a wonderful homage to the great ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN--evident in everything from Russell Crowe's 70s hairstyle to the scenes shot in a parking garage and outside the Watergate Hotel.
The film takes on the worlds of old and new journalism: Crowe represents the old guard, print journalism, and wears in his face all the dignity implied by that tradition--while young, fresh-faced Rachel McAdams represents the new technology; she is the online side of the newspaper and writes a daily blog, while Crowe does things the old-fashioned way and drives around in a 1990 Saab.
These two pair up on a story (similar to the pairing of Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford as Woodward and Bernstein in ATPM) and find that the layers of political intrigue go deeper and deeper.
For all fans of the Redford/Hoffman film, this is a lovely echo of that sort of newsroom excitement. It's more, though. It takes on not only the new journalism, but the idea that corporations can own newspapers, and that even tough broad editors like Helen Mirren aren't totally in control of what is considered news. Everyone seems to have a piece of the newspaper, which itself is presented as functioning on a sort of life support while old-fashioned reporters labor to maintain its importance, its relevance, in a world that cares about computers and minute-by-minute updates.
Ben Affleck looks much older in his role as a square-jawed, cleft-chinned Congressman who finds himself in the center of a scandal (that was the least-fictional seeming part of the film).
STATE OF PLAY starts with a suspenseful visual and remains suspenseful to the last, thanks to some great performances and a really interesting story.