State of Play

state_of_playIt’s always strange to watch a film set in a place or milieu with which you have intimate familiarity. I remember seeing the Kevin Costner thriller No Way Out when I lived outside of Washington D.C. and the whole crowd murmuring when he hopped on a non-existent Georgetown Metro stop.

State of Play gave me that feeling in spades, as it’s set in a newsroom and deals with the struggling newspaper industry and the locking of horns between print and digital media — all things I deal with on a daily basis. So it’s full of scenes that ring true (the sloppy desk of Russell Crowe’s seasoned reporter character, the cartoony redesigns being forced on the paper by a corporation focused only on the bottom line) as well as scenes that are laughably false (a blockbuster story appears to go from the reporter’s typewriter to the front page without intervention by an editor or a lawyer, the Web department in a modern newsroom is confined to a handful of people in a side room marked with a sheet of typewriter paper).

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Married Life

married_lifeThis movie sat on the shelf for awhile before getting a quiet release in March of 2008, and it’s easy to see why it had trouble finding an audience. Despite a stellar cast featuring Pierce Brosnan, Chris Cooper, Patricia Clarkson and Rachel McAdams, it is a bland attempt at a Hitchcockian thriller that never registers a pulse.

We’re in the middle of a weird trend of suburban melodrama set a couple of generations back. Revolutionary Road depicts a 1950s couple unhappy in their marriage; television’s Mad Men covers similar territory across the late 50s and early 60s; Married Life explores infidelity and secrecy among a group of friends in the 1940s.

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