Press, politics and power

2009-06-12 00:00

STATE of Play — the political thriller which opens at CineCentre today — is bursting at the seams with award-winning acting and directing talent.

Russell Crow (Gladiator, American Gangster ), Ben Affleck ( Gone Baby Gone), Helen Mirren (The Queen) and director, Kevin MacDonald (The Last King of Scotland) joined forces to make the film about a rising congressman and an investigative journalist embroiled in a case of seemingly unrelated homicides.

Crowe plays Cal McAffrey, a veteran Washington D. C. reporter investigating murder and collusion among some of the nation’s most promising political and corporate figures, including United States Congressman Stephen Collins (Affleck), who is seen as the hope of his party until his staff assistant dies tragically and buried secrets come tumbling out.

The film is based on a BBC drama series of the same name, which first aired in May 2003. Audiences and critics alike were held rapt by the intertwining stories of Collins and McAffrey, and soon afterwards Hollywood came calling in the shape of the film’s producer, Andrew Hauptman.

“What made the miniseries work so well was that on the surface it was about the dance between politics and journalism — the state of contemporary news media, corporate espionage and conspiracy,” Hauptman said. “But it was also about individuals and their choices, and was deeply personal. It tackled issues of conflict and compromise, loyalty and love, and power and career aspirations. That made it incredibly intriguing.”

Macdonald, meanwhile, was intrigued by how the script took a relevant look at the declining state of print journalism and the death of dailies in some markets. He also saw McAffrey as one of a dying breed — a traditional journalist who scours each lead until he’s satisfied.

In contrast, McAffrey’s editor, Cameron Lynne (Mirren), shoulders the corporate demand to publish scandal or perish, and Della Frye, a young reporter, played by Rachel McAdams, is more comfortable with multitasking and instant access to information. In her world, the blogger first to publish an opinion is often the go-to expert (and frequently cited source) for stories.

Crowe found himself drawn to the project because it portrayed the “ambiguity of the concept of an objective press”. He added: “They [reporters] want to tell you they’re objective and their relationships and their lives don’t affect what they write. But in this case, that’s not true. This was one of the things that interested me — they’re human. They do take things personally, and sometimes they can’t get themselves out of the story — with both good results and bad.”

Also new this weekend is Drag Me to Hell, a horror film written by Sam and Ivan Raimi, which tells the story of Los Angeles loan officer Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) and her refusal to extend a loan to a Mrs Ganush (Lorna Raver) in order to impress her boss. In retaliation, Ganush places a curse on Brown, making her life a living hell. See it at CineCentre.

And at SterKinekor Scottsville you can see Asterix at the Olympic Games, a film adaptation of a René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo’s Asterix comic story in which Asterix and Obelix have to win the Olympic Games in order to help their friend Alafolix marry Princess Irina. The film stars Gérard Depardieu.



• CineCentre: Terminator Salvation; Duplicity; Slumdog Millionaire; Ghosts of Girlfriends Past; Hannah Montana: The Movie; Angels and Demons; Night at the Museum 2.


• SterKinekor: Night at the Museum 2; Fast & Furious 4; X-Men Origins: Wolverine; Slumdog Millionaire; 17 Again; Hannah Montana: The Movie.


• NuMetro: Last House on the Left; 17 Again; Garfield Funfest; The Unborn; Night at the Museum 2.

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