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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

STATE OF PLAY (2003)

This BBC mini-series (the basis for the recent Russell Crowe/Ben Affleck pic) is tremendous stuff for the first three episodes; back-stabbing politics, murder-for-hire, sexy newspaper investigators, unsexy infidelity, spinmeisters & oil profiteers. But the second half is so determined to play ‘got’cha’ with surprise revelations of plot & character that parts 4 thru 6 steadily lose interest. Or perhaps it’s just that the storyline never recovers its momentum once the shadowy hitman leaves the scene. The continuous creepy, crawly, circling camera is a pain (a slow tracking shot on a parked car makes it tough to pay attention to the dialogue; "Hey, guys! Your car is rolling away!"), but there’s lots of good actors working up a storm here; a very young James McAvoy looks positively feral, and Bill Nighy hams deliciously as the wily editor. I haven’t seen so much snorting since Charles Laughton left the scene. Good going, Bill.

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