State of Play Review – Folks, Go for It

What’s not to like about State of Play.

All ye naysaying cretins, speak out now or forever hold your tongue.

A fine thriller set at the intersection of Washington politics, investigative journalism, murder, extra-marital romance and an evil defense contractor, State of Play is the must watch movie of this season.

State of Play

Featuring a solid screenplay and an impressive cast (foremost among them, Russell Crowe), State of Play in desi lingo would be hailed as a total paisa vasool movie.

Based on the six-year-old BBC TV series of the same name, State of Play is a richly rewarding experience for fans of the thriller genre.

A gripping thriller is a concept alien to Indian movie makers (actually, truth be said making movies is itself a foreign notion to our Bollywood and Kollywood film-makers).

Mysterious Death
Minutes into State of Play, Congressman Stephen Collins’ (Ben Affleck) lead researcher Sonia Baker who’s helping Collins dig into the shady affairs of a shadowy military contractor PointCorp is killed under mysterious circumstances.

Della Frye (Rachel McAdams), a blogger at the Washington Globe newspaper, is working the story on Sonia’s death and her relationship with Congressman Collins.

Also working for the same paper is her senior ‘print’ colleague Cal McCaffrey (Russell Crowe) who’s looking into the story of two murders (a pizza deliveryman and an young black purse snatcher) the same night.

Oh, by the way Cal is also an old college friend of Congressman Collins and his wife Anne (Robin Wright Penn).

Who’s Behind the Killings?
All eyes are on PointCorp, the big bad defense contractor, a corporation with its fingers in all pies since the War on Terror and the privatization of the Department of Homeland Security. Public Congressional hearings led by Collins are held to look into its affairs.

But things are never what they seem on the surface in this vortex of politics, crime, illicit romance, big corporation and investigative journalism.

Nice Twists
What lifts State of Play above the usual conspiracy story of a bad corporation with a political angle are the various twists – small and big – that sneak up on you.

Director Kevin Macdonald (of Last King of Scotland fame) delivers a taut thriller that never lets up in the two hours and seven minutes as the movie flits from the two journalists to the Congressman to the hard editor Cameron Lynne (played by the Academy Award winner Helen Mirren).

Ably supported by Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams, Russell Crowe throws in a convincing  performance of an investigative journalist with more than a bystander newsman’s interest in the unfolding developments of the story/crime. recommends State of Play. The movie is playing in theaters all across America.

11 Responses to "State of Play Review – Folks, Go for It"

  1. guruprasad.s   April 18, 2009 at 3:01 am

    Please read the following:
    Hope the article brings out a gamut of emotions in you 😉 Responds:

    OMG, this is blasphemy.

    Has Marquis de Sade taken possession of your body that you should inflict such horrific pain upon our tender souls. And this torture comes after all that we did for you…we rushed to Blockbuster and borrowed 12 Angry Men at your hukum. In bisibele-bath land, they say Ayyo paapa andhre aaru thingalu aayisu kadame agathanthe (if you show mercy on someone, you lose six months of your life). 🙁

    Every line, nay every word, in the pustulent article from the above link oozes a foul-smelling pus. Fie, the utter nonsense of it all.

    What a tragedy that the ‘Kuvempu’ of this ‘masterpiece’ has not been disclosed and is forever lost to history.

    For those too lazy to click on the above link, the article talks of the gibbering Bollywood ape Abhishek Bachchan as the ne plus ultra of Bollywood actors.

    In an article replete with drivel, nothing can rival this nonsensical excerpt:

    Here is one actor who speaks with his eyes. Just one look at him will unveil the gamut of thoughts racing through his mind, his concerns, his reservations, his fears. He appears as if he is analyzing and calculating to carve out a master plan. No wonder then that directors find him apt for playing intense roles and roles that portray a thinking actor. Here’s looking at Abhi’s most intense characters.

    If God existed, there wouldn’t be such articles. Hey, if God existed, Abhishek Bachchan wouldn’t have existed. The fella is an ugly pimple on the fat ass of Bollywood.

    And then we have such gems from the article:

    The struggling star of the initial days has metamorphosed into a superb actor who is able to enter the heart of a story. This puts him apart from other actors of his generation in the Bollywood.


    Abhishek Bachchan is a thinking actor.

    No Sir, we haven’t stopped laughing.

    Folks, Abhishek Bachchan is a joker who wouldn’t recognize either acting or thinking even if they were to bitch slap him repeatedly.

    We don’t think highly of any of our Bollywood ‘actors’ (except maybe Irrfan Khan and Naseeruddin Shah) but this Abhishek ‘flop’ Bachchan is unworthy of even the dust on the feet of mediocrities like Shahrukh Khan, Aamir Khan or Akshay Kumar.

    It’s only 11:14AM ET but after reading this monstrosity, we need a strong drink. Right now.

  2. kelambu_kaathu   April 18, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    I’ve decided to be good with you forever. Happy?

    Now since we are talking about Abhi, many ppl seem to like Abhi. After all, Abhi has made world record. Can you imagine? Guiness world record. Here is the proof

    And even mouthshut says Abhi is good.

    I dont have any opinion on Abhi since I haven’t seen any of Abhi’s movies and do not dare to see in future also. Still Abhi is liked by few. Thats news! Responds:

    1. You write: I’ve decided to be good with you forever.

    My, my, aren’t we lucky today.

    2. You write: After all, Abhi has made world record

    This so-called world record for maximum public appearances is nonsense. Only impresses semi-literate baboons like you.

    An actor is not known by how many public appearances he/she makes in 12 hours but by how entertaining the movie is and its box office response. On both counts, Abhishek Bachchan’s recent movies like Drona and Delhi 6 fail miserably.

    Drona was a pathetic piece of shit and a total disaster at the box office.

    Delhi 6 was rubbish and its box office response was embarrassing.

    3. We read the stories in the two links you provide above. We’ve already addressed the first one above (maximum public appearances).

    The second story tends to veer on the hagiographical.

  3. kelambu_kaathu   April 18, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    If you dont like some Tamizh movies for its masala content, I wonder what you’ll feel abt gult movie. Generally they are full masala, and hardly anything sensible. Please watch one gult movie for me and review it… And if you want death, watch a Kandu movie and review it as well… Kandu movies generally have out-of-the-box thinking like for example, please read this story Responds:

    1. You write: watch a Kandu movie and review it as well

    Gandu, it’s not Kandu but Kannada.

    2. The theme of the movie in your link is nude worship to Lord Ganesha at Ganapathipura. Interesting.

    Somewhere in Shimoga or Hassan district, they used to have something called Bethele Seve (nude worship) until the government banned it a few years ago.

    3. You write: If you dont like some Tamizh movies for its masala content, I wonder what you’ll feel abt gult movie.

    We have nothing against so-called ‘Masala’ films. We enjoyed Pokiri, Kaakha Kaakha, Mozhi et al.

    And WTF is a gult movie…Are you referring to Telugu films?

  4. kelambu_kaathu   April 18, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    If you want a better feel of how kandu movies are with their out-of-the-box thinking, just read the “Plot” of this movie ‘Mungaru Male’ in wikipedia.

    It ran for more than 400 days and still running in a few theatres. I saw this movie last week one night, fast forwarding it all the way. That was the longest night of my life… Responds:

    Some SI readers like halfMonkHalfHitman enjoyed the songs in Mungaru Male.

  5. kelambu_kaathu   April 18, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    You are jealous that you can’t do any world record… You need not appreciate Abhi. But atleast try not to abuse people who have managed it. Responds:

    1. Hard to believe there exists anyone who’s jealous of a worthless star like Abhishek ‘Total Failure’ Bachchan.

    2. You write: You are jealous that you can’t do any world record…

    Yes, we ‘do’ world records – See how patiently we respond day after day to the world’s dumbest imbeciles (hint: we’re referring to schmucks like you).

  6. guruprasad.s   April 18, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    I chanced upon the article while feeling particularly jobless.
    Even as I was reading that article, I was laughing at the article for the sheer audacity of the writer in reporting things that didnt exist, such as Abhi Bachchan speaking with his eyes etc.

    On similar lines, I find it difficult to accept Ash Rai and Priyanka Chopra as good actors.
    In fact, Priyanka won the Filmfare award for Fashion, and worse, Abhi Bachchan was nominated for Best Actor for Dostana.
    Now Chopra, after winning the award, acknowledged other nominees who were contenders for Best Actor (Female) award. These included Ash Rai, and Chopra is said to have referred to Ash as ‘the beautiful Ashwarya’.
    Apparently, Ash got miffed for being called merely ‘beautiful’, feeling that Chopra didnt give her credit for her role as Jodha in Jodha Akbar !!
    So much for these actors and their awards.
    And to think that an actor of the class of Dharmendra never got a Filmfare award in his lifetime, only to get a Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award !!!

    To wash off the bad taste left in your mouth by the article, may I suggest that you sit down with a few cans of chilled beer on a Sunday afternoon, and watch High Noon.
    You will appreciate your beer all the more. Responds:

    You write above: To wash off the bad taste left in your mouth by the article, may I suggest that you sit down with a few cans of chilled beer on a Sunday afternoon, and watch High Noon.
    You will appreciate your beer all the more

    Life’s good with a ice-cold large Heineken (1 pint 8 fl. oz bottle, $2.99 at our Gujju behn Nimmi’s liquor store), Chicken Dum Biryani and Andhra Chicken Curry. 😉

    Assuming you are referring to the 1952 Gary Cooper, Grace ‘Adorable‘ Kelly movie and not the 2009 version. We checked three Blockbusters in a radius of 13 miles but none has it. So we’ll have to wait till next week for the Netflix DVD.

  7. kelambu_kaathu   April 18, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    Songs are decent. But that is no reason for the movie o run 400+ days. halfMonkHalfHitman must be a typical half-wit Kandu who must hav seen the movie 10+ times for its songs. Responds:

    Cut the unrequited personal attack on other SI readers.

  8. guruprasad.s   April 19, 2009 at 1:30 am

    Yes, I am referring to High Noon made in 1952, starring Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly. I havent even heard of High Noon of 2009, and believe me, after watching the 1952 version, you would feel the pointlessness of making it again. I am not sure if 2009 version has the same story and screenplay. I am so biased in favour of 1952 version that, to me, it is a folly equal to remaking Sholay.

    Mallu, Tam/Tambi, Gult and Dig are slangs for Malayalam/Malayalis, Tamil/Tamilians, Telugu/Andhrites, and Kannada/Kannadigas, respectively. Like Gujjus for Gujaratis and Bongs for Bengalis. I have seen these terms used mostly in Colleges and among the younger crowd.

    Looks like one of the readers has provoked you into using some unparliamentary language 😉

    The main reason why Mungaaru Male did so well was that it was a family entertainer, with almost no violence.
    It brought in families in droves. While Ganesh may not be a great actor, his likeable and easy charm really carried the movie. Add to that some very decent songs, and the fact that the movie was shot in the picturesque Madikeri, you have a movie good enough for a large segment of Kannadigas who are starved of such decent fare.

    I have found that ‘mass movies’ work well in Tamil nadu and AP, but not in Karnataka, possibly because of the lack of ‘critical mass’ of audience needed to make such movies successful.
    Now what is a mass movie ? Here is my definition:
    A mass movie a general term used for a movie that caters to a majority audience, and often has violence, and revenge, and love, and the rich Vs poor battle, and a mix of rural and urban setting, and many other things, with the sole objective of including as many social, economic and regional entities, as possible, in order to make as much money as possible. Story etc is incidental to a mass movie. Responds:

    1. You forgot to include filming in foreign locales in the above definition of a mass movie. Every second Hindi movie (Dhoom 2, Ghajini, Dostana, Drona, Bachna Ae Haseeno, Yuvvraaj, Kismat Konnection et al) and every third Tamil movie (Villu, Ghajini, Sivaji, Enthiran) is filmed in Peru, Namibia, Malaysia and all the places in-between.

    2. You write: I have found that ‘mass movies’ work well in Tamil nadu and AP, but not in Karnataka, possibly because of the lack of ‘critical mass’ of audience needed to make such movies successful.

    Your argument does not seem to hold up under examination. According to Wiki, Karnataka has a population of about 53 million with 65% speaking Kannada as a native language. Presumably, another 15% speak good Kannada. So you have 80% speaking the language well. Yet you say there’s no critical mass audience for Kannada films.

    In our view, the Kannada culture is slowly being subsumed by other influences – mainly Hindi, Tamil and English. The locals do not seem to have much pride in their language or culture and mediocrity sems to be the order of the day (as regards government, administration et al). The state appears to be in inexorable decline on all fronts (IT firms are an aberration and their influence will wane as Infosys and Wipro expand their units outside the state).

    Listening to Anisuthide from Mungara Male in the background. Entha Madhura (nice).

  9. Asha Tampa   April 19, 2009 at 5:11 am

    “Hey, if God existed, Abhishek Bachchan wouldn’t have existed. The fella is an ugly pimple on the fat ass of Bollywood.”

    LOL, you are the best!! Heh!

    Btw, why dont movies like this one release here? Responds:

    You write above: Btw, why dont movies like this one release here?

    Someone mentioned in a comment a few months ago that these days movies featuring big stars release on the same day in India too. Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck are certainly big stars.

    Surprised State of Play hasn’t released on the same day in India.

  10. halfMonkHalfHitman   April 19, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    Hi SI

    Nice review. I will definitely watch this one on the big screen. It has not yet released here in the UK I think, i am not sure. Was a little disappointed by Body of lies, but I still like Russell Crow nevertheless. 🙂

    On a different note, i see that a certain SI reader has abused me for no reason at all!! 🙂

    All I would like to say is Mungaru Male was liked by a lot of people (No, it did not have a great story. It was pretty average in fact), because it had a certain freshness to it, which is something that you dont see very often in “Kandu” movies these days (Kannada movies have been reduced to almost a mere shadow of its former self in the last 20 years or so). It was also shot in the more beautiful parts of the state which have been seldom shown on screen.

    As far as why the movie ran for so long… well… what can I say…. I guess the target audience for which it was made for liked it 🙂 … a lot of Indian movies run for a long time anyway. One cannot relly think of associating any logic behind their success. I am still baffled as to how most of them manage to run that long.

    So, Kelambu_kaathu dude… chill out man… 🙂 Responds:

    1. It’s releasing on April 22 in UK and on June 19 in India, according to the State of Play international site.

    BTW, do movies release on Wednesday in UK? Here it’s Friday, sometimes as early as 12:01 AM for big movies like James Bond, Batman and Indiana Jones.

    2. As for the baboon who used some strong language, we asked it to cut it out.

    3. You write: All I would like to say is Mungaru Male was liked by a lot of people

    We haven’t seen a Kannada movie in a million years but the old songs are simply marvellous.

    Listening to Thanuvu Manavu in the background.

    After that, it’ll be Anant Nag ‘singing’ Kanasalu Neene Manasalu Neene (with the late Kalpana in Bayalu Dari). Following that, it’ll be Anant Nag’s brother, the late Shankar Nag’s Hosa Balu Ninninda (with Gayathri in Auto Raja). 🙂

  11. halfMonkHalfHitman   April 24, 2009 at 9:54 pm

    Yeah, It released here today. Will definitely go during the weekened.

    I have not seen a release on wednesday for the duration I have been in the UK. Only premieres happen on Wednesday. I myself had gone to leicester square for the premiere of Quantum of Solace to see the stars…. and was not disappointed 🙂

    Just saw two movies back to back…. fast and the furious 4 and monsters vs aliens…. the former was just a shadow of the first part, while the latter was a good enjoyable movie if you are into animated films…

    My friend from “Bharath” has got Maqbool when he came here today, and will be watching it this weekend. It has Irfan Khan, Nassirudin Shah, Om Puri, pankaj Kapoor and Tabu. Thats the kinda star cast that is enough for me to watch the movie without reading any reviews.

    Have you watched Maqbool by the way? Heard it is an adaptation of Shakespheres MacBeth. Responds:

    No, we haven’t seen Maqbool. Great cast.

    Must see it soon.

    Plan to watch Chop Shop over the weekend. Borrowed the DVD from our local public library today.

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