2009-05-08 / Entertainment/Lifestyles


'State Of Play' - Crowe On The Case
By Robert Snyder

If you're reading this on newspaper paper as opposed to online, you may be able to relate to the dramatic subplot in the political thriller, "State of Play:" The death of hard copy news and the rise of the internet blog.

Old time reporter Cal McAffrey (Russell Crowe) of the Washington Globe is hot on a case involving the mysterious demise of a congressman's mistress.

Early on, the older reporter is at odds with the Globe's wetbehind the-ears, ambitious young blogger, Della Frye (Rachel McAdams), who wants to scoop the sleaze onto her online column. Cal says hold back, there's a bigger story here worthy of the status that only ink will give it. Della does not believe her colleague is a crusading dinosaur, but biased because the congressman in question, Representative Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck), was Cal's roommate in college.

Let's not mention that Cal's had relations with Mrs. Collins (Robin Wright Penn).

This breaking news is bigtime tabloid blogisphere material. Directed by Kevin MacDonald ("The Last King of Scotland") and based on British TV miniseries, "State of Play" is a lightning-speed tangle of twists and turns, worthy of "All the President's Men." It's always as intriguing and almost as coherent.

Collins is spearheading a congressional investigation into the shady dealings of major-money security defense contractor, akin to Blackwater Worldwide. Cal manages to connect a seemingly unrelated back alley double murder to the mistress, and her to the contractor.

Stop the presses! That line doesn't even work anymore since the once-reputable Globe has been absorbed by a media conglomerate, leaving the no-nonsense veteran editor, Cameron Lynne (Helen Mirren), pushing against her grain for the quick salable headlines.

Paunchy and raunchy, Crowe performs his anti-hero role with stalwartness and wit, ultimately loosening McAdams' character into loyal Robin to his Batman. Maybe, there's hope for the ultimate merging of blogger and paper reporter.

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