Idol Chatter

rachaelmcadams.jpgI was engaged, thrilled, and entertained while watching the wonderful “State of Play” recently. And whether it was the Easter season on my heart or some classic traditions on my mind, it hit me that “State of Play” is as much about the death and (hopeful) resurrection of some wonderful American institutions as it is the plot about Washington, D.C., Congress, journalistic inquiry, and friendship. The film pays tribute to at least three American media traditions and makes a case for their rescue from extinction.
First, “State of Play” features an all-star cast including Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, Helen Mirren, Robin Wright Penn, Rachel McAdams, Jeff Daniels and Jason Bateman. The “Ocean’s Eleven” trilogy featured a nice ensemble cast but all-star marquis-sharing can’t be found much anymore and it’s a shame. “State of Play” makes a case for bringing it back.
Second, McAdams plays a blogger in an obvious genre comparison between old-fashioned investigative journalism and the current trend towards blogging, Twittering, and other forms of un-verified information sharing. So many people in our culture–especially young people–probably couldn’t even articulate the difference between the validity of the blogosphere and the source-confirmation based reporting of traditional news journalism. Crowe’s character brings recollections of Redford and Hoffman in “All the President’s Men,” Michael Keaton in “The Paper,” Elliot Gould in “Capricorn One,” and even Cary Grant in “His Girl Friday,” except for the comedy part. There is an inspiration in the fact-finding risks the journalist takes to find the truth, a world far removed from the casual chatting that bloggers get away with. With newspapers dying around the country, this film makes a nice case for why we should save them.

Third and finally, the movie asks some ethical questions that cause the viewer to think, not unlike TVs “24” and certainly not unlike the Hitchcock-ish mysteries of a day gone by. By leveraging the truth vs. grace, friendship vs. facts, and the power of the powerful vs. the simplicity of the little guy, this film invites us to ask some significant questions about the values that drive us and the convictions that determine our choices. It’s about honor. And commitment. And a professional ethic that isn’t modeled much in this generation.
“State of Play” has a whole bunch more than a plot a great cast. It asks some great questions, and pays homage to a time gone by in more ways than one. Perhaps, one can hope, its commercial success can bring some of its traits back from the dead, at least as far as Hollywood is concerned.
Rachel McAdams at

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